NHS Winter Meltdown

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | January 3, 2018 0

As it heads to its 70th Birthday this year the NHS is in meltdown under a Health Secretary who previously called for its privatisation. Jeremy Hunt has apologised to patients after tens of thousands of non-urgent operations were postponed in England.

Both Hunt and his weak and powerless boss, Theresa May, are keeping to the same untrue party line repeated over again that the cancellation of ALL elective surgery in January (55,000 + operations) is to “improve” patient care. The NHS crisis is not the fault of politicians who’ve been in power for seven years, inherited a record patient satisfaction level & has been repeatedly warned of a £30 billion shortfall. It is the fault of doctors, nurses, immigrants & Gordon Brown.

The Health Secretary admitted there were “real pressures” facing the health service as NHS England urged hospitals to defer routine procedures such as hip replacements until the end of January to free up hospital beds and staff, amid reports many hospitals were plunged into crisis over the festive period. Mr Hunt said the move, which could lead to up to 55,000 routine operations being delayed, was “absolutely not what I want” but conceded that hospitals were under huge pressure from the ageing population and a spike in flu and respiratory diseases.

Meanwhile, Theresa May acknowledged the news was frustrating for affected patients but said the NHS was “better prepared for this winter than ever before”. However critics said the situation was putting patients at risk, with former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb warning there was “no doubt that patients will die and families will suffer” because of the pressure the NHS is under.

Mr Hunt told Sky News: “There are real pressures, no doubt about it. This is the busiest week of the year for the NHS and the first thing I want to say is a massive thank you to NHS staff who are working incredibly long hours, throughout the night and beyond the call of duty in every possible way. “What is different this year compared to last year is that [last year] we had a lot of operations cancelled at the last minute, a lot of people were called up the day before their operation and told, ‘I’m sorry, it can’t go ahead’. And we recognise that it is better, if you are, unfortunately, going to have to cancel or postpone some operations, to do it in a planned way, and that’s why this year this independent panel has decided to take this decision and that, I think, in the end, is better for people. Although if you are someone whose operation has been delayed, I don’t belittle that for one moment and indeed I apologise to everyone who that has happened to.”

The move was revealed in new guidance from the NHS National Emergency Pressures Panel (NEPP) which told NHS trusts to extend cancellations of non-urgent operations until the end of January to manage winter pressures. The temporary block had been in place until mid-January.

The Prime Minister dismissed suggestions that the health service was in crisis and pledged operations would be rescheduled “as soon as possible”. Speaking to reporters on a visit to Wokingham, Ms May said: ”The NHS has been better prepared for this winter than ever before, we have put extra funding in. There are more beds available across the system, we’ve reduced the number of delayed discharges of elderly people who would otherwise have been in NHS beds rather than in social care. But I recognise for those people that have had their operations postponed this is disappointing, it’s frustrating.”

Mr Lamb, a health minister in the Coalition Government, said apologies from ministers would be of “little comfort” to people who have had their operations delayed. He said: “There is no doubt that patients will die and families will suffer because of the impossible pressure the NHS is being put under. Tragically this crisis was wholly predictable and preventable. People will rightly be infuriated that the government has refused to put in enough resources to stave off another winter crisis.”

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the comments revealed how “entirely out of touch” the Prime Minister was on the reality of the challenges facing the health service. “Next, she will be trying to lecture patients that ‘nothing has changed’ for patients. The reality is we see hospitals at full capacity, ambulances backed up, cancelled operations and patients waiting for hours on trolleys. Instead of burying her head in the sand, Theresa May needs to explain why she has allowed underfunding and cuts to health and social care to continue.”

It is time for Labour, the party which founded the NHS in the hardest of times as a practical blow for equality and social justice, to step up to the plate as a party of government and not as an incubator of outdated and irrelevant ideological clap trap protesting impotently. It is time to tear apart the ludicrous and divided Tory Party, to convince the electorate of our credibility to lead and govern and to take back and refound a well funded NHS Free at Point of Need.

The Skibbereen Eagle

In 1898, to widespread bemusement, a small Provincial Newspaper in an equally small town in the South West corner of Ireland sonorously warned the Czar of Russia that it knew what he was up to and he should be careful how he proceeded for “The Skibbereen Eagle” was wise to his game and in future would be keeping its eye on him! It is doubtful that Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias, even noticed the Eagle’s admonitions but as history soon proved he should have paid closer attention to the Eagle’s insightful opinions!

Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.
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