The most revealing lines in Rachael Swindon’s article (extract below) are these: “Jeremy Hunt won’t tell you NHS hospitals have been ordered to hand over swathes of operations to the private sector to ease a looming winter crisis, according to leaked memos . Health officials have also instructed hospitals to discharge thousands of patients in a bid to reduce record levels of crowding, while managers have been banned from declaring ‘black alerts’”.
The message that the Conservative Government has mired the British public – who deserve so much better – in a mess that is entirely their own has penetrated every level of society.
Attempts to play down the severity of the situation have failed. The news media have given in and are now reporting it (although the quality of those reports may still leave much to be desired).
And the social media, where we refused to let the facts be buried, are running rampant. Here are just a few of today’s comments:
NHS# It is now obvious that if you vote Conservative you are ending the NHS
— Peter Symons (@brookebay21) January 9, 2017
If you put current #NHSCrisis in context with Govt's plans to inflict £22bn "savings" by 2021, you can understand why staff are so concerned
— Clive Peedell (@cpeedell) January 10, 2017
This one refers to a claim just made by Jeremy Hunt on BBC Radio 4’s The World At One. He reckons only a handful of A&E patients have been waiting on trolleys:
— Stephanie (@foggyknitter) January 10, 2017
(I think the tweeter means 1,000s of patients.)
— Dr Ben White (@drbenwhite) January 10, 2017
This crisis, in part, is a product of both the privatisation of social care and more recent cuts to local authority budgets (resulting in less money being allocated for care locally) by successive Tory governments. When vulnerable people lack adequate social care they are more likely to turn up at overstretched heaving hospital A&E departments needing to see a doctor, increasing the burden on the NHS and exacerbating the crisis no end. This is obvious to everyone, except the Tory government. Data from councils in 2015 showed they have been forced to cut £4.6 billion from adult social care budgets since 2009-10. That is equivalent to almost a third of net real terms spend. A further £1 billion was expected to be cut last year. Social Care is in crisis.
Mental health trusts in England are still having their budgets cut, despite government assurances they would be funded on a par with physical healthcare. Analysis by the The Kings Fund think tank, found 40% of the 58 trusts saw budgets cut in 2015-16. King’s Fund chief executive Chris Ham said: “Cuts in mental health services are just as risky as cuts in acute hospital services. We are talking about people in crisis who need expert support in a timely way. If they don’t get it, it’s bad for them and their families – and for the communities in which they live.The crisis in mental health services is real and serious. We all need to wake up to that reality. Parity of esteem is a laudable ambition that hasn’t been followed through in practise.” Mental Health Services are in crisis.
Jeremy Hunt is claiming only one or two hospitals are in trouble. This is despite the British Red Cross having to help with a “humanitarian crisis”. An elderly woman died after spending 35 hours waiting on a trolley in A&E, in a tragedy which exposes the depth of the NHS crisis. She was taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital but could not be placed on a ward due to a shortage of beds.The patient suffered a cardiac arrest. She died in an undignified hospital cubicle with curtains pulled around the outside. A second patient at the same hospital, who was made to stay in a waiting room, died after suffering an aneurysm. There were claims that the hospital was in ‘meltdown’, with nurses in tears and patients lying on trolleys ‘three deep’ in the corridor. Accident and Emergency is in crisis.
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