A snapshot of Cameron’s NHS in Blackburn
I spent an hour and a half in Barbara Castle Health Centreyesterday waiting for treatment. As I sat in the busy waiting room a number of patients came over and said hello. The stories I heard from fellow patients were awful and put into context what is happening on the ground as a result of the Tories top-down re-organisation of the NHS.
One case in point was Jean who is 75, riddled with arthritis, needs her leg dressing twice a week after hurting it months ago. She has to carry the dressings to the Health Centre and struggles due to the arthritis in her hands. She used to have a district nurse call at her home but it was stopped and she was told she had to make her own way to the Health Centre, at £ 7 for taxi’s each time she is struggling.
I asked her why the home visits stopped. She told me that sherecently had to open a bank account so got a taxi to town. When she told the nurse that she had been in town she was told that if she could get to town she could get to the Health Centre. Surely this is wrong, for a lady who has worked hard all her life to be treated this way. I am sure the stress emotionally and physically cannot be good for her.
There was another lady, with both legs heavily bandaged and on two walking sticks, she was obviously in a lot of pain. She had a similar story, only she had to go to her father when he died. Subsequently she was told that she obviously was not housebound so could get to the health centre. She says not only was it expensive to get to the health centre but also very painful.
I am organising an event at King Georges Hall in November and inviting older people for a cup of tea, cake and some entertainment. The idea is to tackle social isolation and help people have some enjoyment and make friends they have yet to meet. I am now worried that I will be encouraging people into a situation that could cause them to lose medical services they currently receive.
Surely people should be helped to leave their home occasionally and not be worried they will lose support they need.
It’s becoming clear that the focus of next years’ General Election – and the key policy issue which highlights the difference between what the Labour Party stands for and what the Conservatives are all about – is the way we look after our NHS.
The Tories have delighted in negative stories about the NHS. They’ve said it needs reform.
The fact of the matter is we all know that the NHS isn’t perfect but what it does guarantee is that every person in this country receives whatever medical treatment they require no matter what background they come from and at no charge.
It’s the most basic moral offer of a civilised society – that we’re all born equal human beings and health or medical problems are not in our control and should not require payment. The rich should have no more right to medical treatment than a person living off benefits having been in a road accident that has prevented them from working.
No matter how hard the Tories try to tell us they care about the NHS, deep down we all know the truth. They don’t care because, firstly those at the top of the Conservative Party have no problem in paying for their own healthcare and secondly, basically they know that those most likely to need healthcare are from more deprived areas and most definitely not likely to vote Conservative.
The Tories opposed the creation of the NHS – fact. And in every Tory government since then they’ve tried to dismantle it. We cannot afford to let them get another five years or it will without a shadow of a doubt be too late.
Today’s announcements in the media by Tory PM David Cameron will I’m sure be laughed at by the demoralised staff in our NHS. His suggestion that nurses will carry out hourly ward rounds, and that they need to learn that ‘caring is their main job’ and his proposed survey asking them if they would be happy to let their relatives use the same services is at best a complete insult to the fantastic hard work and dedication of our nurses – under ever more pressure , and at worst just another attempt to divide and rule the NHS as well as undermining public confidence – all more evidence of the Tory agenda ultimately to privatise the NHS through the back door.
Let’s face it – no one ever really trusted Cameron’s promise to protect the NHS and the real terms cuts now being made are clear proof of his real intention. Cameron and his incompetent Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, are determined to pursue a badly thought out NHS restructure which is costing £100s of millions in redundancy payments to doctors and bureaucrats who went on to get good jobs elsewhere, and at the same time their claimed ‘protection’ of NHS budgets is in reality a cut as inflation will mean that the cost of providing services will exceed budgets.
So before everyone starts believing the Tory press rhetoric it’s worth remembering a few facts – under Labour 149 new hospitals were built, under Labour deaths from heart disease fell by 40% (that’s 180,000 lives saved), 99% of suspected cancer cases were seen within 2 weeks and began treatment within a month – saving 60,000 lives (a pledge scrapped by the Tory led Government) and significantly there are now 80,000 more nurses than there were under the last Tory Government. And under the last Tory Government NHS waiting lists rose by 400,000, over 284,000 had been waiting for more than six months and nurses struggled to cope in crumbling buildings that hadn’t had investment for decades.
When the elections come round again it will be time to judge the Parties on record not rhetoric – so remember these facts because I’ll be amazed if Mr Cameron has genuinely discovered a heart and his actions match his words!