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Chair Report Jan 2017

09/02/2017, 13:01

As Chair of the PVG  (Patient Voices Group) I spend most of my waking hours talking “health” to Patients and to Staff who work in health and social care. It would be fair to say that People are worried – very worried. Particularly those in their forties and fifties – for whom the realisation is dawning that if they get ill and need social care in their autumnal years, that it may not be readily available. Whether or not you believe that the current government has an agenda to Privatise large parts of the NHS is largely irrelevant now. There is no conspiracy - It is happening – right before our eyes. I believe that 2017 will be the most challenging time yet for the NHS both Nationally and locally. The perfect storm is assembled. Years of under investment in our National Health Service and Local Government has mean that Health and Social Care Services are caught on a macabre merry-go-round.   So, Patients need medical help. The ones who follow protocols would ring their GP only to be told that there are no appointments for 2 weeks. They are given advice (if they are lucky) to call back or call 111 if the problems worsen whilst their surgery is closed. 111 is a failing system that was basically introduced to save money and that would be funny – were it not so tragic. NHS Direct was scrapped – large numbers of trained staff were made redundant and in came a system which triages patients using a computer programme. 111 operators (who have little or no medical knowledge or training) err on the side of caution in the majority of cases and refer to Out of Hours Providers who have become swamped by demand since 111 came online in 2011. Demand has gone up – funding has gone down and the system is at breaking point.   If you are unlucky enough to need an ambulance – the news isn’t better. Nationally, response times are appalling. Right across the country Ambulance Trusts are failing their targets and putting lives at risk. People are dying, waiting for an ambulance to turn up. That is a reality. That is a fact. If you are transported to a hospital there are no guarantees that you can be handed off to hospital staff. A&E Departments (That’s Accident and Emergency – and not Anything & Everything) are swamped and understaffed and they too are not meeting their targets. In Blackburn with Darwen, East Lancashire Hospital Trust operate the Royal Blackburn Hospital which has the busiest emergency department in the Northwest – that’s right – not LANCASHIRE – but the NORTHWEST – and like every other Trust across the Country, they have failed for 12 months now, to meet their 4 hour target. So – the ambulance crew are forced to wait with their patient – who – if they are lucky – have found a space in a corridor next to four or five other crews and their patients. Those crews are now tied up and god forbid anyone who now calls 999 for an ambulance. At the weekend or busy times, there can be 15 ambulances, with crews, tied up, waiting to hand over.   For the patients on the beds in corridors, the news isn’t going to get much better. The hospital has no beds available. Their beds aren’t full of sick people. They are full of people who are medically fit for discharge, but who are not fit to be sent home. They need support and social care. They won’t get social care, because none is available. Why? Well – Central Government has decimated local government – cut their staff – and cut their funding – and thus their ability to provide community services is diminished. Public services have been hit hard. Social Care has been hit harder and our older citizens are derogatorily referred to as “bed-blockers.” One day – and for some of us sooner than others – we may very well be that “bed-blocker.”   The focus and public anger is shifting. People are realising that Health providers – GPs Out of Hours and Hospitals are working flat out and can’t GIVE any more. The care that they give us is exemplary. They are making us better. The medical profession is keeping us all better. We are all living longer and many of us have multiple long term health conditions which are being managed. But for how long? To live with a modicum of compassion and dignity we need to get Social Care right and get it right now. So please contact your elected representatives, your councillors and your MPs and get them to lobby central government. Get them to make a noise about reopening the thousands of social care homes and beds which have vanished out of the system over the last ten years.       If you have any questions regarding my report please email me at Russ.McLean@nhs.net or Chair@ELPVG.info


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