I trust many BV readers enjoyed to the full their Christmas festivities with family and friends. Of course not everyone will have been able to enjoy it – some through misfortune, and others through essential work commitments. My partner Pam and I were among the unfortunate ones ourselves, but our experience gave us a valuable insight into one of the most essential pillars of UK society – our NHS.
On Christmas Eve, Pam tripped, fell – and seemingly broke her arm. Arriving in A&E at 7pm we found the waiting room almost full. Nevertheless Pam was examined within 15mins, given painkillers, and booked for an X-ray – with a warning that due to a staff shortage there would be a long wait…
When we were finally ushered into the X-ray area at 1am the extent of the problem became apparent. The ward was full of sick and injured people, and the medics were extremely busy caring for them. The staff were deeply apologetic for the delays, and in return all we could do was thank them for working so hard through Christmas.
The need to invest in the NHS is clear to everyone who unfortunately has to call upon its services. The same goes for our social care system, where poor pay and conditions contribute to record low staffing levels with a current 150,000 vacancies.
NHS England data shows that 10,000 healthy patients were forced to stay in hospital on Christmas Day, because of a lack of the social care facilities needed for them to be discharged. That’s 10,000 beds which are then not available for sick and injured people.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement prioritised tax cuts over spending on health, and there’s no secret in the government’s creeping ‘backdoor privatisation’ of the NHS.
This year brings local council elections, and possibly a General Election. This will be your chance to let local politicians know that health care is a major priority for all of us. Cuts to preventive and community care urgently need to be reversed. As Joni Mitchell once sang “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.
Let’s make sure we don’t lose more of our amazing NHS.
Happy New year everyone.
- Ken Huggins,
North Dorset Green Party