18 January 2015

Zombie

It is said that there is very little good news. There is, so I'm told but good news doesn't make headlines and is seldom broadcast. The news output on the main TV channels this year has been utterly depressing and makes you wonder what hope there can be for human kind. As Dolores O'Riordan sang 'with their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns' the few are leaving a terrible trail of destruction in their wake and yes, Mothers' hearts are broken.

The one subject reported though that really has depressed me beyond belief has not been the direct slaughter of innocents by misinformed terrorists although that in itself could be enough to think there is no hope, no it's been the indirect slaughter of innocents by those in charge and who should know better, who are trusted to know better, are paid to know better but do not live in the same world as I do, yes I mean our politicians, our government and how they are allowing the NHS to die. Nor is it withering. It is a death by thousands of cuts, literally, and it is violent, dark and absolutely bloody heart breaking.

The privatising of vital NHS services, GPs 'purchasing' of vital services for their patients are bad enough but seeing A&E departments fall apart under the immense pressure of the needs of people requiring their services is observing the NHS in its death throes. It is not the fault of the staff who work in these departments who face an uphill and never ending battle every time they walk into work. No, there are a myriad of reasons but they all interlinked and they all come back to the tories and our coalition government.

It is in the personal interests of many high ranking tories including cabinet members to see the NHS die. They and their friends are shareholders and beneficiaries in the companies that will take over from the NHS; the insurance companies, the private health suppliers and providers, all there ready and waiting to step in because health services are no longer about benefiting the people be they sick or well but in need of advice, but are about profit.

The tories bleat long and hard about the GP contracts that the previous government introduced which have led to GPs no longer providing decent out of hours services but have they done anything about these contracts? No. They torment us with little snippets such as asking GPs to see more patients outside of normal working hours (and how many actually do that?) but there is little if anything else offered.

111 was supposed to be the saviour, a better service than NHS Direct. Get rid of the NHS marker, contract it out and make it better! Have you ever called 111? I have several times. My only advice is don't bother. The script they read from has to be strictly adhered to, there can be no deviations. It is take a paracetamol or go to A&E and virtually nothing in between.  One weekend in absolute facial agony with a swelling that made  me look like I'd done a few rounds with Mike Tyson,  I was given the phone number of a dentist that offered an out of hours service. I called them. It was 120 pounds to walk through the door and sit in the dentists chair plus there would be extra to pay for treatment and yes I made it clear that I was an NHS patient and not private. Needless to say I did not take up their generous offer and instead maxed out on painkillers for another 24 hours enduring the agony.

Over the last twenty years we've got used to hearing about hospitals streamlining their services because due to the improvements in procedures and care, patients can released home sooner and so beds available in hospitals  have been reduced. Trouble is that when there is a high demand for beds either the people waiting in A&E have to wait on trolleys, sometimes in corridors until a bed becomes available whilst the person who was utilising the services and the bed is discharged perhaps a little sooner than they should have been into a world where the services they need are either lacking or non-existent. Or maybe they are discharged only to be readmitted a few hours later via the auspices of A&E because they have suffered a catastrophic event entirely down to the fact that they were discharged too early. I could relate anecdotal stories to illustrate this of people who I know where this has happened but there really is no need because everyone reading this will have similar stories to tell.  Such is the pressure on beds.

Recently I sat for many hours going through the budget proposals of Walsall Council who have enormous cuts to make to services if the budget it to be legal. This too was heartbreaking. How on earth are you supposed to make informed comments and arguments about why certain services should not be cut or charges raised on those least able to afford them when there appears to be little alternative? Some of the proposals for adult care in the community for both young and old are nothing short of insulting and also discriminative. Discriminative because in my mind everyone should have the right to access the care and services they need to be able to lead a full and active life within the community and yet for those who are disabled in some way or are old are now being told that in order to to be on a level playing field with healthy and able bodied they must pay and pay dearly.

It is the local councils that are supposed to provide social care. For many people who are being discharged from hospital it is vital that this social care is in place and accessible as soon as they are discharged but the councils are having to cut or to charge for these services and the administrative merry go round that is encountered when attempting to arrange access for someone is such a nightmare. No wonder hospitals cannot discharge those that are well enough not to be in hospital but do require social care and services. It is cheaper for the council and the individual for people to remain in hospital, bed blocking.

These are the reasons A&E departments through the country cannot reach their targets and why people are kept waiting on trolleys for hours and sometimes days. It's all about money. Money to be made for shareholders and interested parties and money to be saved by councils by not providing services or providing them but charging and making them inaccessible to those who need them most.

Yes the NHS makes the headlines, the so called failures of A&E staff to meet targets. What isn't making the headlines and what isn't entering into the full consciousness of the British people in large numbers are the real reasons for these failures. It's all about money and profit. But you see it's not me, it's not my family......


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