Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Blaming patients.

I got so annoyed; yesterday morning woke up tired and aching and having to get up to do all the things I’ve got to do. I was listening to a ‘debate’ on the Radio 4, Today programme. On one side someone quoting ‘statistics’ from the Kings Fund which is a rather staid think-tank, it doesn’t rock the boat. He was using them to find some people to blame;

Too many old people.

Too many Immigrants.

Too many timewasters going to A and E.

G.P’s too lazy.

End result waiting times have gone through the roof at A and E, this is the King’s Fund quote:

A total of 313,000 patients waited more than four hours from January to March, up 39% on the similar period in 2012, the King's Fund said after analysing official statistics. That represented 5.9% of patients when the NHS is allowed a leeway of 5%.”

 “In a review it published earlier this year, it found that from October to December 2012 more than 232,000 A&E patients had waited more than four hours. That was a rise of 21% compared with the similar period in 2011 but, at 4.3% of patients, still within the government's target.

This is the first time the target has been missed since the target was relaxed to 95% in 2010. Before that it was 98% and tended to be missed each winter.

Except, while that’s what the report said, it wasn’t the conclusions they came to;

John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, told the BBC there was no single explanation for the "spike" in waits, but an ongoing squeeze on the NHS budget was "one of the key reasons".

While the government has ring-fenced the budget from cuts, the NHS is expected to find efficiencies of £20bn by 2014."The other thing to remember is that these emergency departments are not working in isolation - they work with other parts of the hospital," Mr Appleby added. "If you haven't got the beds for people flowing through then you very quickly back up into A&E." The King's Fund said the actual number of people presenting at A&E had not increased significantly and the issue was more a question of how the demand for care was being handled.”


Told you so– there was a women (I was too tired to get names at the time) later I found that she was Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs. She was trying to get out some facts, valiantly trying to set the record straight – but no one was listening to her except me.

She said that GP surgeries and hospitals were "heaving under the workload" and the whole NHS was at risk of "grinding to a halt". She maintained that a rise in admissions was not a significant factor, adding: "I suspect that it's the cuts we've seen in services. It's the workload issues, the workforce issues.

Unfortunately, when what she said didn’t conform with the stereotypes she got interrupted by the presenter and what she said hasn’t been repeated on the BBC website. The person with the prejudices turned out to be Chris Skidmore a Tory M.P.

There aren’t too many old people at A and E – it’s the population mix, live with it.

Immigrants are younger and healthier and use hospitals less than everybody else.

Without immigrant Doctors and Nurses we’d all be waiting a lot longer.

If there are too many people needing beds/operations at A and E, they aren’t timewasting.

G.P’s aren’t there to mend broken bones and strokes – that’s for A and E.

The end result was that I ended up annoyed as well as tired out. Got up and forgot to write down the names.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people just want to air their prejudices – well here are mine:

From 1997 on we have had hospital closures, ward closures, staff reductions, de-skilling, shortened hospital stays, reduced community care, less district nurses, increased drugs bill, privatisation.

The end result is there aren’t enough staff to keep enough beds open to keep the patients moving through the system to allow people to be seen quickly enough at A and E and to allow all the planned operations to go ahead.

Doh! It’s not Brain surgery.

Well, in a way I suppose it is.

The hospitals and A and E’s that shut were needed as were the nurses and the equipment.

Too many cuts and now the chickens are coming home to roost.


Blame the patients. Blame the old and the immigrants. Blame the G.P’s and the chronic illnesses. Spend less, do nothing.

Wow, that was a rant. Wasn’t feeling so great when I put the mouth into gear. If you want some more rational argument and proper stats, check out;


 Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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