SNP can’t ignore issues
There were three interesting headlines in last week’s Reformer, all connected: ‘Robison satisfied with patient info access protocols’, ‘Kelly needs to move on’ and ‘Politicians too quick to criticise the NHS’.
The first was an article about the problems encountered by local people, including me, with the results of tests done at local GP surgeries not being available to consultants at Glasgow hospitals. This was raised at Holyrood by James Kelly, the Glasgow regional MSP whose remit still covers this area.
The reply from health secretary Shona Robison was along the lines of “Problem? What problem? I don’t see a problem.”
This was followed by the usual government gobbledygook, namely “both NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have assured us they have IT systems and protocols in place to enable the sharing of relevant patient information including lab results.”
Well, they can assure her as much as they like but it is not the case, as many patients have discovered.
Once again, she does her Lady Macbeth act and washes her hands of it, passing it back to the health boards.
I have had correspondence with Ms Robison on several health matters and a great deal of help from James Kelly MSP. Each time she has sent me two or three pages of irrelevant waffle and then denied all responsibility and batted it back to the relevant health board.
Readers may remember the horrendous time I had at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital just before Christmas. I took this up with the Scottish Government as, in my view, they are ultimately responsible for what happens in our health service. I was advised by her, after telling me how much they had invested in health, that I should take the matter up directly with the health board. I did this in December. I am still awaiting a reply.
It is not the health secretary that the health boards should be giving assurances to but the patients. The fact is that there is a problem, or is she trying to say that top consultants do not know which button to press on their computers? The fact that my GP saw fit to give me a paper copy of my blood results speaks for itself. This is a very serious issue to be given such an offhand answer.
For some life-threatening conditions treatment cannot be given unless blood results are deemed to be satisfactory. Patients who are already very ill and not fit for the long journey across the city are advised to have these tests done at their local GP surgery to save them the journey. More stress, uncertainty and delay are caused and in some cases treatment is postponed because these tests have to be repeated, with results sometimes rushed through the same day or sometimes requiring patients to come back.
These are exhausted patients who need the system to work smoothly and time is of the essence with some treatments. It must also result in further expense for the NHS.
I then read MSP Clare Haughey’s column and I was not impressed. It is not politicians who are criticising the NHS, it is the patients who are on the receiving end. The whole article reads as if she think she is still a trade union shop steward defending the workers against criticism.
No one, least of all myself, has criticised the NHS staff on the ground. I have worked for them myself and never worked so hard in all my life.
What has she or her party had to say about the test result difficulties? Nothing. What had she to say about the problems at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital? Nothing. What had she to say last year about patients, myself included, being told they would have to travel to Monklands Hospital for scans? Nothing.
I had to take up all these issues myself with the Reformer, with the health boards and with the Scottish Government with, I may add, a good deal of help from James Kelly. I did get assurances in writing that we in this area would still be able to access Glasgow hospitals. I expect Ms Haughey to ensure that this promise is kept.
I give praise and criticism in equal measure where it is due. I have been exceptionally well cared for by the NHS over this past year. I have also fortunately not had any problems with accessing GP services as the care I have had from all staff – doctors, nurses, receptionists and telephonists – at the Stonelaw Practice in Rutherglen has been superb.
However, apart from the issues above, I have also found gaps in specialist services in Glasgow and am still enduring unacceptable waiting times for further consultations. For example, I waited a year for one specialist referral and will be going back to a consultant who referred me to another service without having seen anyone at the other hospital as yet.
Ms Haughey’s column reads like a party political broadcast and it is clear that she toes the party line. Her phrases are uncannily like Ms Robison’s.
Instead of boasting about the additional £9m of public money being poured into the NHS this winter she should be demanding facts and figures from the health boards as to how and where this is spent. Millions were poured in last winter and I am not alone in discovering that it was a shambles and a hugely stressful and debilitating experience being an emergency patient.
Her job is to represent all the people of this area and to take up their concerns, whether they voted for her or not.
She should be listening to the people on the ground. They are the ones who put her where she is today.
MSPs have no power other than what we gave them. They are answerable to us, the people. Time to talk less and listen more.
I also see in the Reformer that NHS Lanarkshire is holding a series of public meetings in Wishaw, Airdrie and East Kilbride but -none in this area. Is that what they call consultation? Dorothy Connor Rutherglen
The next meeting of The Cameronians Families Association is on Sunday, October 16, at 2pm.
The venue is the Tannochside Olde Club, 416 Old Edinburgh Road , Tannochside, Uddingston.
The group consists of ex-Cameronian Riflemen, families and friends who have a general interest in the regiment of old Lanarkshire.
All welcome for an interesting afternoon. Douglas Torrance via email