Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/380/4283
Crisis time in Welsh hospitals
ON MONDAY 7 February, all the acute hospitals in south-east Wales were placed on red alert, due to serious pressure.
Dave Bartlett, the secretary of C.R.I.S.I.S (Cardiff Royal Infirmary - Save Its Services), reports that the NHS in Welsh towns and cities such as Cardiff has been plunged into crisis.
CARDIFF'S MAIN hospital, University Hospital of Wales (UHW), is regularly forced to close its doors to all admissions and a field hospital was opened at Christmas in the Millennium Stadium.
C.R.I.SIS have called for the opening of an accident unit at Cardiff Royal Infirmary (CRI) that could take pressure off UHW. The chief executive of Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, inadvertently backed up our demand by admitting that "the crippling problem is lack of capacity".
However, the Local Health Board (LHB), refuses to re-open CRI. Far from building a new hospital, they want to move other facilities onto part of the site, then sell off the rest to build a high-rise apartment block.
The Community Health Council has organised public consultation meetings on the LHB plans. C.R.I.SIS is calling on Cardiff's working people to come out in their hundreds, as they have before, to oppose the LHB proposals and demand a new hospital. In a South Wales Echo poll, 95% supported our demand to re-open the Infirmary, but that support must be turned into action if we want to save the hospital.
Already under-resourcing by the Labour Welsh Assembly government means that patients at Wales' biggest hospital, UHW, are treated "worse than animals" according to nurses who work there.
Fiona Salter, a sister in the emergency unit, said: "We're at the end of our tether with the sheer number of patients that are arriving and often there is nowhere to treat them.
"Nurses are beside themselves with feelings of guilt and going home in tears, angry that they cannot provide the quality of care that they have been trained to give." This is not just a January blip, she said, the crisis has been building for two years.
The Trust shows how re-opening the hospital could be paid for. It is spending £18.6 million this year on agency and bank nurses to cover unfilled nursing shifts. Just recruiting and retaining nursing staff would go a long way to re-opening the Infirmary.
In The Socialist 12 February 2005: