‘THESE latest sets of NHS performance statistics are deeply concerning, and paint a very bleak picture for the future delivery of patient care if urgent intervention is not forthcoming.
‘This is despite doctors and NHS staff working tirelessly around the clock to deliver care in increasingly challenging circumstances.’
In commenting above on the most recent NHS performance statistics – which include the worst-ever waits across a number of performance areas, including consultant-referred treatment – the chair of the BMA doctors’ union Dr Chaand Nagpaul has emphasised this week: ‘Worryingly, we are seeing record lows across the board.
‘With the time taken to receive consultant-referred treatment now the longest on record, and with only half of patients receiving treatment within 18 weeks of being referred – the lowest on record – a daunting and huge challenge lies ahead to resume normal levels of care.
‘Patients will understandably be very anxious to be able to access the care they need and, with the number of people waiting over a year for treatment, the highest it has been in a decade – over 46 times as many as last June – there are real concerns that many patients’ conditions will worsen while they wait.
‘We know that doctors are extremely worried about the prospect of being able to manage demand as normal care resumes alongside the very real threat of a second wave as we approach the winter months ahead.
‘The government needs to have a clear twin-track strategy to ensure that we can get through the backlog of care – with a focus on treating those most in need as a priority – along with managing Covid-19 patients and being ready for a possible second wave and flu season ahead.
‘It is therefore crucial that there are adequate resources available to ensure that we can resume the normal delivery of care for as many patients as possible, as a matter of urgency, without stretching staff beyond capacity to achieve this.
‘The government must also learn from the mistakes of the past and ensure that the health service is ready and equipped – including ensuring adequate PPE for NHS staff – so it is fully prepared in the event of a second wave.’
- Meanwhile, it is taking longer than usual for patients to be seen at the Accident and Emergency unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
A critical incident has been declared at the trust which runs Gloucestershire’s two main hospitals as it struggles to cope with ‘higher levels’ of demand on its emergency services. Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that despite additional staffing it is taking longer than usual for patients to be seen in the A&E department.
And a leaked memo to trust employees by chief operating officer Dr Rachael De Caux said it is recognised ‘staff are tired’ but it would take a ‘Herculean effort to reset not just us but the entire urgent and emergency care system’.
She also said in the message that demand had been ‘unprecedented’ over the last three days.
The demand has come just months after the trust temporarily closed its A&E department in Cheltenham General Hospital in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has said it is ‘confident’ that the temporary change it made is ‘making our services safer’. It is not known what the cause of the increased demand is.
Critical incident status allows the organisations’ leaders permission to clear their diaries and work together to try to resolve the situation. In a statement, Dr De Caux, said: ‘Higher levels of demand than we had predicted, combined with new ways of working in response to Covid-19, have put considerable pressure on the urgent and emergency care system in Gloucestershire in recent days.
‘Despite additional staffing, these combined factors mean it is taking longer for individual patients to be seen in our A&E department at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
‘However, we are confident that the temporary changes we have made are making our services safer.
‘Our focus is now on improving waiting times in the department whilst working closely with system partners to reduce demand for hospital care by ensuring that patients are seen outside hospital wherever appropriate so only those who need specialist hospital care attend A&E.
‘We intend to review the impact and ongoing necessity for the temporary changes at the end of this month, in line with our previous commitments and ahead of the county’s health overview and scrutiny committee meeting in September.
‘Our aim remains to ensure that we are prepared for any possible surge in the pandemic and as a result do not have to pause the wide range of non-Covid services as we did during the initial phase.’
- Public service union Unison declares its solidarity with Colombians as the Covid pandemic compounds the crisis.
Unison says Covid-19 dominates so much of the news in the UK at present that it can be easy to forget the non-Covid issues that people continue to face around the world.
These problems have no ‘pause for pandemic’ button and for the most part, and have been made even more acute in the light of the crisis.
In the two weeks to 10 August, Colombia was reported to have the fourth most confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world, with more than 12,000 reported deaths to date.
For Colombians, the virus has compounded ongoing issues in the region, with reports of violently enforced cartel lockdowns during the pandemic.
Now, more than ever, people need the skills and the confidence to empower their communities and organise for change.
Nomadesc, Unison president Josie Bird’s chosen charity for her year of office, is a human rights organisation that works to support communities, trade unions and social movements in the south west of the country, with a focus on communities affected by forced displacement.
On trips to the region, Josie has seen first-hand how the charity helps people live ‘fulfilling lives in incredibly volatile situations’.
She saw the problems caused by the almost non-existence of public services and the absolute lack of secure employment in Colombia as a ‘cautionary tale’ of extreme neoliberalism.
Nomadesc’s organisation gives people the skills and confidence to advocate for themselves and their communities, empowering women and organising for change, despite its very limited income. Unison says its principles closely mirror its own.