Everything seems to be hotting up this week. Except for the Tory leadership candidate debate which has been cancelled due to the participants lack of interest – apparently.
Doesn’t bode well for the rest of us – does it?
The best advice I’ve received this week is to close the windows and draw the curtains to keep the heat out. That’s well worth a try! As is a dip in the sea to cool off. I certainly enjoyed a swim yesterday at Ramsgate’s Western Undercliff and not a dodgy Southern Water discharge in site. Long may it stay that way.
But the news that’s making me really hot under the collar, is again, the terrible state of our local NHS. This time, it’s pathetic pay awards and failing ambulance services that are concerning me most.
At a recent Kent HOSC – health overview and scrutiny – meeting, I raised NHS and Social Care pay, and the fierce competition that exists for staff in both the health and social care sectors.
Many valuable workers are leaving the NHS and Social Care, preferring instead to work for supermarkets chains and similar. Why is that? Primarily workers are motivated by wages, the current cost of living crisis, the worry about energy bills, and skyrocketing fuel costs meaning people are changing employment for modest increases. Every penny counts right?
Don’t forget many supermarkets offer other valuable perks – phone contract, food and household insurance discounts to name a few. These savings, and reduced pressures at work, or easier, less stressful jobs, see workers voting with their feet. Post Brexit we no longer have as many ‘overseas workers’. The Government could start to tackle this problem through a decent wage settlement. But that’s simply not going to happen. I hope I’m wrong and more that 5% is offered.
Ultimately lack of NHS and Social Care staff is leading to ambulance’s queuing to get people – patients – into hospitals, because managers and clinicians and anxious, ‘fit to discharge’ patients cannot be sent home safely – without care staff! There’s a nasty bottleneck. This workforce crisis has been steadily brewing over the last decade. But real problems are now becoming frighteningly apparent. Underfunding is plainly evident.
I asked at the HOSC exactly how many people waiting on the back of an ambulance are potentially suffering with a stroke? Because we all know how dangerous it is to have to wait for that vital scan to determine the appropriate treatment. Delay can be dangerous or deadly. Labour campaigned to stop the closure of the QEQM stroke unit and against the HASU – hyper acute stroke unit – being sited so far away in Ashford. The answer? They don’t know. Seriously that was the answer. (It’s all recorded.)
I’ve asked again for the statistics. We need to know precisely what is going on. I’ve also called for a fresh look at exactly where we put the HASUs in light of recent significant changes. Thanet, in common with other coastal areas, has experienced a significant population growth due to Covid. Whilst we are told that future population trends are routinely taken into account in NHS planning, this Covid bounce could not have been foreseen. I want to double check the numbers. But first of all I need the NHS to collect the data!
I believe that Thanet needs its own HASU, that Ashford is too far. I also believe whoever becomes our next Prime Minister needs to address the issue of NHS and Social Care workforce as an absolute priority. It’s time to pay our health and care givers properly. Give them what they are worth!
I note our local MP remains silent on this matter. I know it’s hot and that can account for drowsiness – maybe someone needs to give him a nudge. Wake up! It’s a crisis.