NHS worker: I’ve never been so dis­heart­ened

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page -

AFRONTLINE NHS worker has spoke out over the “de­mor­al­is­ing” and “des­per­ate” state of the health ser­vice.

The South­port-based worker, who did not want to be named, said that staff were “run ragged” and more dis­heart­ened than at any point in her more than 10 years of ex­pe­ri­ence.

The em­ployee, who works in emer­gency care, de­cided to speak out amid fears the Govern­ment was “run­ning the NHS into the ground” through a lack of fund­ing and a cul­ture which places more im­por­tance on tar­gets than pa­tient wel­fare.

Among the prob­lems were:

Fund­ing cuts leav­ing staff and re­sources over­stretched.

Tar­gets given pri­or­ity over pa­tient care.

Staff leav­ing the NHS in huge num­bers.

The lo­cal pop­u­la­tion now be­ing too great for the size of the hos­pi­tal.

A 111 ser­vice which wrongly di­rects peo­ple to emer­gency care.

Lack of GP ap­point­ments caus­ing peo­ple to visit A&E un­nec­es­sar­ily.

Ris­ing adult so­cial care needs.

The hos­pi­tal’s A&E de­part­ment is un­der­go­ing a £1.25m ex­pan­sion which will cre­ate more beds and a bet­ter am­bu­lance han­dover space.

The des­per­ate need for the up­grade was proved in De­cem­ber when am­bu­lances were left queu­ing for up to seven hours.

In the two weeks be­tween De­cem­ber 18 and 31, more than 200 pa­tients were forced to wait longer than 30 min­utes in am­bu­lances be­fore be­ing ad­mit­ted – 94 of them for more than an hour.

One of the big­gest prob­lems for emer­gency re­sponse staff, the health worker ex­plained, was the 111 ser­vice wrongly re­fer­ring peo­ple to A&E for mi­nor and non-ur­gent prob­lems.

The ser­vice is run to ease pres­sure on emer­gency ser­vices, but is staffed by peo­ple who are not med­i­cally trained and all too fre­quently pa­tients are wrongly iden­ti­fied as need­ing emer­gency care.

Much of this stems from other is­sues, she ar­gues. The lack of avail­abil­ity of GP ap­point­ments means peo­ple are more likely to visit hos­pi­tal, while the pop­u­la­tion of South­port has rapidly out­grown the ca­pac­ity of the hos­pi­tal.

This is made worse by the fact the hos­pi­tal is the de­fault A&E de­part­ment for wider ar­eas such as Formby, Orm­skirk, Maghull and Tar­leton, mean­ing the num­ber of pa­tients is rapidly out­grow­ing the ca­pac­ity of the hos­pi­tal.

“Now we’re go­ing to work, we know what we’re go­ing to go in to, which is long de­lays. More peo­ple are ringing be­cause they can’t see their GP.

“There’s so many el­derly peo­ple in South­port now and peo­ple who fall can wait up to four hours. There was one per­son in Lan­cashire who waited 10 hours on their kitchen floor a few weeks ago.

“If peo­ple weren’t wait­ing to get into the A&E, if the de­part­ment was big­ger, if there was more staff, we could be help­ing these peo­ple.”

Other is­sues stem from the need to meet govern­ment tar­gets, a sit­u­a­tion which means pa­tients can be moved to dif­fer­ent ar­eas within the same de­part­ment, sim­ply to meet a four-hour max­i­mum.

The worker added: “I don’t know what the way for­ward is, but I think if man­age­ment had to work a day in the de­part­ment they’d see things very dif­fer­ently.

“The NHS is be­ing abused, not so much by the ser­vice users but by the Govern­ment.”

Re­spond­ing to these con­cerns, the chair of North Mersey A&E De­liv­ery Board, Ai­dan Ke­hoe, said: “This win­ter has been ex­cep­tion­ally chal­leng­ing for staff across the NHS. There has been sig­nif­i­cant and sus­tained pres­sure and staff have been work­ing in­cred­i­bly hard in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.

“We know that this has meant that some pa­tients have waited longer in emer­gency de­part­ments and we are very sorry about these waits, which we know are dis­tress­ing.

“I would like to thank the public for their pa­tience and sup­port.

“We are fo­cused on en­sur­ing the best pos­si­ble pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence and that means en­sur­ing that we treat pa­tients as quickly as we can – for pa­tients to be safe, not be­cause of Govern­ment tar­gets. Most pa­tients are still treated quickly and we pri­ori­tise those who are very sick.

“In the past few months, we have seen more com­plex and sicker pa­tients, most of whom are over 75 and who need longert­erm care from a range of ser­vices, not just hos­pi­tals. These pa­tients of­ten have mul­ti­ple con­di­tions.

“Hos­pi­tals lo­cally have a num­ber of pa­tients on their wards who are ready to be dis­charged, but who are wait­ing for com­mu­nity or so­cial care, which means that we can’t al­ways speed­ily ad­mit peo­ple from the emer­gency de­part­ment.

“Or­gan­i­sa­tions across north Mersey are work­ing to­gether on a num­ber of dif­fer­ent projects to im­prove the care we pro­vide for pa­tients and en­sure that peo­ple don’t need to spend more time in hos­pi­tal than they need to.

“These in­clude lo­cal rapid re­sponse teams to try and pre­vent hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions, reg­u­lar meet­ings be­tween hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity staff to im­prove dis­charge plan­ning and stan­dar­d­is­ing the way we work to re­duce the waits pa­tients may ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore be­ing dis­charged. South­port A&E is be­ing ex­tended to pro­vide more space for pa­tients.

“These projects are hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact.

“All hos­pi­tals have ac­tive re­cruit­ment cam­paigns and con­tinue to em­ploy new clin­i­cal staff and we are try­ing to do all that we can to im­prove both the ex­pe­ri­ence of pa­tients and staff. I would like to thank staff for their on­go­ing hard work and ded­i­ca­tion.”

Is South­port and Formby Dis­trict Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal too small to serve the area’s ever-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion?

Times have been tough at South­port & Formby Dis­trict Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. In two weeks in De­cem­ber, 94 pa­tients were forced to wait more than an hour in an am­bu­lance be­fore be­ing ad­mit­ted

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