Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sickness Matters - to patients and staff alike

'People Must take Control over their own Wellbeing'

Just a week into the New Year and the Minister has begun reciting from the annual litany of unnecessary sayings.  Here, he asks us to consider taking control of our own health and wellbeing.

After listing the 'usual suspects'; drinkers, smokers, eaters, fatsos, and those silly people who expect the health service to help them stay healthy, Minister Drakeford reminds us of "the bargain struck between the public and the health service".  I don't know about anyone else, but I don't remember making such a bargain: perhaps he's starting to rewrite history again ?  He seems to have forgotten that NHS Wales has lost over 800 beds, closed hospitals, lost doctors and nurses, as a direct result of pre-meditated cost-cutting that has resulted in our health service now being half the size it was yet expected to provide health care for nearly double the population - legal and illegal.

With regard to the spurious figures, he fails to mention who carried out the survey, how many people were surveyed and whether or not these were representative of the entire population of the Principality.  Still, as politicians and journalists always say "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Of particular interest in the next days' press, were the articles entitled 'NHS Sickness Concern', which bemoaned the absentee rate of hospital staff due to mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression.  It seems that, in the real world ( beyond Cathays Park and Cardiff Bay ), that matters on the hospital front are not as we have been led to believe.  Staff are being so overworked that 2,224 incidents of staff being absent for more than a week due to illness as a direct result of work-related pressures - in ONE year alone !  How then is the NHS "well prepared for the winter surge" as claimed by health service leaders.

Of course, a Welsh Government spokeswoman was quick to state that "Measures were in place to help staff and manage their sickness".  Well all I can say is "Why aren't they working ?", and "How in blazes do you expect to manage sickness in communities, if you can't even cope with your own internal problem ?"

We have other workers in Wales subject to huge pressures and even unemployed families suffering from anxiety, stress and depression as a direct result of the government's stringent austerity measures.  In addition - also according to our press - food prices have risen by at least 20%, along with fuel and other utility bills. and, not forgetting Value Added Tax and all public services. What measures have the government put in place to protect the general public from price rises - especially amongst the avaricious retailers ?

As usual, our government wants the Penny and the Bun - cut back on health expenditure and services, whilst expecting US to accept blame for their mismanagement !   R.  W.

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