The NHS vs Common Sense
Like me, many viewers would have been pleasantly surprised at how the case for patients groups affected by proposed changes was reported in an open, honest manner which was very refreshing.
All patient groups were given the opportunity to state their position, particularly with such major changes as closures of A & E departments (e.g. Llanelli ) and the transfer of Neo Natal services out of area. In fact, not one patient or member of the public believed that any of the propsed changes would have a beneficial effect on their lives.
I was even pleasantly surprised at the position adopted by the head of the Community Health Council, Tony Wales, who referred to the consultation as a"total charade, as the health board had completely ignored the will of the people, going ahead with the proposals regardless. Hywel Dda spokesperson, Kathryn Davies, reiterated the party line by saying that had listened but that the changes were in the best way to achieve improved and sustainable health services for the future.
Of course all this rhetoric is repeated throughout Wales at the command of the Welsh government, with the Health Minister ensuring that everyone is 'on the same page'. Sadly, there is a Culture of Fear throughout Welsh public services that actively prevents health professionals from expressing any opinion that challenges the proposals. Tony Wales and seniour consultants insist that the proposed changes are all about saving money. From my own experience - being a chronically ill regular at UHW - I can honestly say that I have not met a single medical professional who believes these changes are anything but counter-productive to the future provision of an improved and sustainable health service. Peter Tyndall, Health Ombudsan was critical of the large increase in the numbers of complaints received about poor health service by his department
When interviewed, the stone-faced Dear Lady Minister would only repeat that the changes were essential and would produce a sustainable health service. She added, that "Wales has a health service to be proud of, and whenever I visit hospitals nobody complains to me, ever." [ I can only liken this experience to being faced with a Puff Adder, threatening to strike ]. Typically arrogant rhetoric, but flying in the face of tens of thousands of patients who understand the meaning of the term 'Common Sense' and are are living proof that her blinkered vision results in the stupidity of that rhetoric. As one of her feminist idols once said "The Lady is not for turning". We mustn't refer to her as 'the Iron Lady' because we no longer mine Iron ore in the Principality nor do we have a single Welsh-owned company producing any home-smelted products.
To sum up the position of the main medical profession groups in Wales :-
1. The people affected by the changes don't want them.
2. The BMA and the RCN say that the changes are "Completely wrong for Wales", and there has been no proper consultation on the proposed changes
3, The Royal College of Surgeons are ( like others ) concerned about the out-of-control bed occupancy levels being above the recommended 82%, the extremely poor hygiens levels, and the fact that nurses are overwhelmed with the demands being placed on them by their employers/managers.
4.The Ombudsman for Wales, stated that "patients are NOT receiving the basics of care" and that "resources were poor and inadequate".
5. The Seniour A&E consultant ,Mark Poulder says there are insufficient beds, causing abulances to be at grid-lock outside A&E units, which is the direct cause of poor ambulance response times and patients being put at risk.
6. The Royal college of Psychiatrists, as a consequence of the their year 2000 recommendations to be implemented, and have not been consulted about any of the reduction of mental health services since then ( 13 years ).
7.Patients are being discharged prematurely, causing a high number of readmissions of patients whose condition has worsened as a result of not getting proper medical help when they were first admitted by theit GPs.. The attitude appears to be "Just treat the immediate synmptoms and do not conduct investigations of the underlying causes of chronic illnesses".
8. There are reported to be NO hospitals in Wales that are not overcrowded and understaffed. Evidence of any recruitment drives is well hidden from view.
9.The CHC (Community Health Council ), North Wales Chapter call the consultations a complete charade and a waste of time and money.
10. Not one person interviewed - other than the our deaf, dumb and short-sighted Minister, Ms Griffiths ( supported by the Labour Government, of course ) - agreed with any of the proposals.
It remains our opinion that the current adverse circumstances are due entirely to total lack of planning and also a deliberate reduction of services in order to create the current situation of fear amongst service users and medical staff. Having lost over 800 beds and even more nurses ( to agencies ) over the past decade - not to mention all the hospital closures - there can be little doubt that the new changes are the result of pre-meditated rationalisation and unending cost-cutting.
I close by reminding viewers that the Minister concluded her remarks with the words "I will; not be deterred from the proposed changes...". What a dreadful condemnation of our devolved government, who cannot manage a £6bn budget let alone the total amount estimated at £20bn + to improve the health, wealth and economic benefits of Wales' citizens. And to Hell with democracy ! R.W.