26 June 2010

Clip, clip, cut, cut, snip, snip


I've spent a fair amount of time in two different hospitals recently as those who follow me on Facebook will know and it gave me some time to reflect on how differently two places with the same ethos and same purpose can operate so differently but also on which members of staff would be considered 'front line' and therefore not lose their jobs in the severe cuts in public services that we are to see over the next few years under our ConDem coalition government.

I hope that nurses and doctors will not lose their jobs but what about clinical assistants, care assistants, education and play co-ordinators, cleaners, and the multitude of other ancillary staff who have direct patient contact and who help to provide and decent service to patients?

When you need something or someone it is more likely that it will be a clinical or care assistant that is the first person to respond. They're the people who hold the hands of patients and their loved ones, make sure the bed is ready when a patient returns from surgery and that all appropriate equipment for monitoring is in the right place. They fetch and they carry and they chase up the named nurse who in theory is providing all the care for an individual patient. They are in effect the dogs-bodies but I wonder if they are considered essential front line staff. Certainly wards could run without them but that would put an enormous strain on the nursing staff and patient care would suffer enormously.

On the Children's wards there are education and play co-ordinators and what a job they do! Talking to each child and their parent or carer, assessing what activity might be helpful in directing the thoughts of a child away from pain. Setting up group activities and DVD showings for the teenagers. Sorting out books and games, making recommendations and gently persuading children to make an attempt to get out of bed and go down to the playroom. Again, wards could run without them but what a poorer experience a child would have without them. They enrich the life of the ward and touch the lives of individual children in a memorable way.

I could go on as this subject concerns me greatly and not just with regard to hospitals but for education too. Cutting 25% from an education budget will mean some pretty serious implications for the education of our children. It's almost as though the people of the UK feel that we must go through this agony of cuts and losses in order to attempt atonement for the vast excesses in consumption and lifestyle up until now because there is so little opposition to the drastic measures that have been outlined in the last week. I disagree. The cuts that are going to be made will change the lives of many and not for the better. Those who are least able to defend themselves such as the sick, the young, the old, the disabled, the carers will be the most affected and their voices will not be heard. You can see David Cameron and Nick Clegg et al getting ready with their ear plugs just to make sure that they don't have to listen because they do not want to listen and even if they heard hasn't the Prime Minister already said that protests will not be relevant to the action he has to take. What sort of a country are we going to fashion in the next generation for the generations that are to come?

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