Ambulance Waiting Times

A change of subject today, but another topic very close to my heart.

Did you know that hospitals can be fined £200 for every patient that is kept waiting in an Ambulance at A&E for between 30 minutes and 1 hour?

It gets worse, if kept waiting for over an hour that fine can increase to £1,000.

Why are patients left waiting in an Ambulance once they have arrived at A&E? There is only one answer, government cuts.

I am not bashing the NHS, A&E or the Ambulance/Paramedic Service, I am laying the blame squarely at the door of Central Government, and it has been going on for several years.

Government cuts have led to fewer doctors, fewer nurses, bed-blocking (Local Authorities cannot accept patients being discharged from hospital to a Care Home etc due to their budgets being cut by government and this has a knock-on effect).

Hospitals are struggling financially because of the government cuts, and their situation is being made many times worse by being fined for failing to perform at the required level because of government cuts. The hospitals have less money, then they get fined and ‘robbed’ of some of the little money they did have.

In 2013, collectively, hospitals were fined £44 Million for patients kept waiting in Ambulances. In 2017 one hospital alone was fined £300,000 over a nine month period. Just think what these monies could achieve if spent on patients, instead of being lost in arbitrary ‘fines’.

Doctors, Nurses, Ambulance Drivers, Paramedics, virtually ALL Healthcare Professionals, exist to provide a world class service to their patients. They are hampered in doing this by the government cuts and then have even more money taken away from them because they have failed to meet their targets.

Well done Mr Hunt, I hope that you can sleep at night.

#CutsHaveConsequences in the NHS also.

NHS Reforms Are Working, Waiting Times Are Down

I am NOT having a go at the NHS.  I am a staunch supporter of the NHS, half of my family have, or do, work for the NHS.

Back in February of this year I was finally referred by my GP to see a Hospital Consultant.  End of March I saw the Consultant Surgeon. Having ordered fresh X-Rays he decided that there was no option he could offer me apart from surgery, and that it was urgent.  So he put me on his Urgent List, surgery within 6 weeks.  Nothing Life-Threatening, but seriously affecting my quality of life.

Within days I was given dates for a 5 hour pre-op assessment and my operation, end of May.  No complaints there because he was taking my pre-booked holiday into account.

The day before my op I was contacted by the hospital enquiring about my general well-being and any factors that might affect my suitability for surgery the next day. During the waiting period I had contracted a chest infection, seen my GP and been presribed antibiotics (and taken them).  Sharp intake of breath and the anaesthetist decided that I could not have my op for a minimum of 4 weeks after the completion of my course of antibiotics.  A pain in the derrière, but at least I could understand that part.

Simple, naive me thought that I would simply be sent a new date >4 weeks hence. Silly me.

The very next day I somehow received a letter from the bureaucrats that, as I was “unfit for surgery” I would be removed from the list until my GP declared me fit, which would be a minimum of 4 weeks. Taken off the list, the ‘clock’ effectively reset.

4 weeks on my GP bemusedly certified me fit for surgery and a quick phone call, with letter to follow, got me back on the list. Less than a week later I got a letter informing me of new date for surgery, 12th August.  So my course of antibiotics had effectively delayed my surgery by 10 weeks, not just 4.

A new 5 hour pre-op assessment was called for as the revised date for surgery was >3 months after the previous assessment.  Annoying but fair enough, I understood the need.

Fast Forward to 10th August when I received a phone call from the hospital.  “Bad news I’m afraid, we have to cancel your op as we have no Anaesthetist that day” They hoped to be able to give me a new date later that day or the next. They haven’t managed that yet.

My gripe with this cancellation is that, unlike the previous one, there is no clinical reason for it. Jeremy Hunt has ‘Reformed’ and ‘Improved’ the NHS so that they are now required to provide a  7 day routine service and not just for Emergencies.  So there will be increased resources for that then? No. A 5 day a week service now has to cover 7 days a week with no extra staff.

As I sit here and wait for new appointment when I should have been waking up after my operation it occurs to me that the Surgeon, his Registrar(s) and the Theatre Nurses were rostered to work today but can’t because there are no spare Anaeshetists to cover for the one who has presumably gone Sick. What are those highly skilled professionals doing today now?  Checking paper clips and stitches ready for Monday? Who knows?

So Hunt’s ‘Reforms’ of the NHS have, totally precictably, led to a situation where when one member of the team goes down the whole thing grinds to a halt.  Refusing to increase the resources means that I COULD have had surgery on a Saturday,  only I can’t as the hospital has been robbed of all resilience by the ‘Reforms’.

I have said this before in relation to Police Reforms, but Reform is defined as

make changes in something, (especially an institution or practice) in order to improve it.

So where exactly are the improvements above Mr Hunt?

I know I’m biased, this is my personal experience of your Reformed NHS.  Working well isn’t it?

Surgery within 6 weeks is approaching “surgery within 6 months”  and as I write I still don’t have a new date but it sure as hell won’t be Monday will it?

Wherever you look in the Public Sector, the Emergency Services, the Armed Forces, they have been DESTROYED by the Conservative Party.

I hope you are proud of yourselves.