VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
WHEN the House of Commons returned on January 9, there were calls for a debate on accident and emergency provision. Not long before then, I went to A&E in Sheffield with my husband Jack – who is now much better – and thus want to thank the staff who assessed, treated and cared for him on that occasion.
There have been some worrying reports about people spending time on trolleys in A&E departments, and indeed Jack was on a trolley, in a corridor, but he was comfortable and probably overall he would have been far less comfortable sitting on a chair in the waiting area. We are all aware that when dealing with people in acute medical situations problems can occur but we must also recognise the positive outcomes.
Talking to constituents, recently, I have also heard positive stories about those who had to attend A&E at Stoke Mandeville. I understand that the staff, when they were coping with high demand, could open a treatment area and move beds into it so that the patients could be accommodated quickly. We should thank the staff who take these decisions and give good care to their patients, because they sometimes do not receive the accolades that they deserve. They really do merit many tributes, working as they do in a branch of medicine where they respond to so many challenges, through day and night.
Without question, the A&E service is caring for many more patients and the fact that we have an ageing population does mean that more people are ending up in A&E. There are also growing numbers of people with long-term medical conditions which can be the result of ageing, such as dementia. Patients with dementia can find being in an unfamiliar environment such as a hospital unsettling or even threatening, so they need appropriate care to provide reassurance. The numbers of doctors working in A&E have increased.
There are services like 111 which offer assistance too, to share the load. Having visited local pharmacists I know that their trained staff are also pleased to give advice. Many GP surgeries are also employing staff like nurses who specialise in looking after the older patients and who can give advice.
Unfortunately, there is a small minority who abuse the system but the majority are there because of acute need and we should praise those that help us when we are most in need.
CHERYL GILLAN MP for Chesham & Amersham