Mr Perrin’s blog: “A Word in Your Ear”.
“The Blame Game”
AT the January, 2017 Full Council meeting Cllr Oliver Gerrish (Labour) asked the Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill (Conservative), not once but three times, to admit that the NHS was in crisis. Three times Cllr Gledhill declined to use the word “crisis, At the February, 2017 Full Council meeting, as a member of the public, I asked Cllr Gledhill the following question, his answer and his answer to my supplementary question follow:-
From Peter Perrin to Councillor Gledhill
During a debate at last month’s Council meeting Councillor Gledhill indicated that he did not accept that the NHS, nationally or locally, was in “crisis” but rather that there were “problems”. In view of reports since then that 137 out of 152 hospital trusts have been at “unsafe” levels so far this winter, Basildon University Hospital being one of the 137, would Councillor Gledhill now consider changing his assessment from “problematic” to “crisis”?
“Thank you, Madam Mayor. Obviously after answering the same kind of question three times with the same answer last month…The short answer is no, but I think it would do you a bit of a disjustice just to say no. It is clear that the NHS are experiencing problems, and as I said last month, this is a lot to do with the lack of proper planning and the way that the services are being used by some. Councillor Halden later in the same meeting outlined things like, in 14-15, 24,424 patients attended A&E from Thurrock who received advice only i.e. no significant investigation or clinical treatment; that was 41% of all attendances. A further 25,652 patients attended from Thurrock who received the most minor level of investigations or treatment, for example blood test or a wound dressing change; that was 42%. Of all of these cohorts, sorry these cohorts made up 83% of all A&E attendances. 27% of those who turned up in these two cohorts turned up in an ambulance and I’m sure the well-trained and somewhat hard-pushed paramedics were very pleased to see them being used as a taxi service. The total cost to the NHS for treating these patients in A&E was somewhere in the region of £4.4million. Now, if you can imagine, if we put up with that misuse of public funds elsewhere there’d be an outcry. This needs to change. Public perception of what A&E is there for needs to change, and needs to change quickly. Imagine what that £4.4million could do just for Thurrock residents at Basildon Hospital. It could mean that there’d be more staff, it could mean more buildings so there could be more patients there for the longer, Winter period. So again, no, I will not change my statement from last month.
Thank you, Madam Mayor. Would you, Councillor Gledhill, tell me, Mr Perrin, what criteria you, Councillor Gledhill, would require to be met before you, Councillor Gledhill, would be prepared to admit that the NHS was, is, in crisis?
Thank you, Madam Mayor. In the same vein I, Councillor Gledhill, I’m not an NHS expert, clearly. If I was standing outside A&E with a 4 ½, 8hour, 10hour wait in an ambulance or in a corridor I would say this is a terrible crisis, this is something that affects me directly, now. However, most people do that, a lot of people wouldn’t look at the fact that 83% of the people that have gone in front of me probably didn’t need to be there. So I will admit that it is in crisis when the waste, the misuse, the poor use and all the missed opportunities within the NHS are addressed, and then if it is still not performing up to a level that everybody finds acceptable then, and only then, will I say it’s a crisis.
It appears that Cllr Gledhill lays the blame for the “crisis/problems” mainly upon the “users” i.e patients and claims it to be a “fact” that 83% of the people in A&E “probably” did not need to be there. Which is it “fact” or “probability, it cannot be both, unless he believes the latest trend of “factual inaccuracies”? In view of the “hear, hears” and the banging of tabletops by his fellow Conservative Councillors, I presume they agree with him .
It is a trait of many MPs and Councillors, of all political persuasions, to blame “users” for the current NHS crisis “people are living longer” “old and vulnerable people are clogging up the availability of hospital beds” “far too many people are using A&E when they should be consulting their own GP (doctor)”.
I would remind those MPs and Councillors most people view A&E as a 24 hours 7 days a week service provided to deal with both accidents AND emergencies, and rightly so will use it as such.. It is not the “users” who are entirely to blame, though I will concede there are some who are not blameless, nor is it the fault of the doctors, nurses, consultants, cleaners and others who work in A&E and hospitals. It is more to do with adequate funding, long stressful hours, low paid junior doctors and nurses and the dangers they face from violent and abusive users. If given the choice I would rather junior doctors, and other professionally qualified staff were paid a back-bench MPs salary and those MPs paid the salary of a junior doctor.
I would like to believe that Cllr Gledhill and his Conservative colleagues are compassionate and caring However, it is the obsession that everything must be “costed” and appraised as being worth a specified sum or amount, that worries me and leads me to conclude that Cllr Gledhill, along with his fellow Conservative Councillors, are more concerned with the “cost” rather than the “value” of the service provided.
P.S. It is reported that there were 93 missed GP appointments every day in Thurrock, i.e. 2,900 patients failed to show up during the month of December 2016.
GPs complained that these patients failed to notify them of the cancellation,, thereby depriving another patient the opportunity of taking up that appointment . Whilst not condoning the irresponsibility of the transgressors, I do wonder how many of the 2,900 spent an hour or more on the telephone trying to contact the surgery to notify that they were unable to keep their appointment and finally gave up in frustration.