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Health bosses move goalposts on A&E waiting times: more funds for our NHS now!
Andrew Bromhall, Unison health rep (personal capacity) and Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party
It is with much anger and disbelief that I read the latest incredulous ideas from NHS England. NHS bosses plan to change their long-promised target of all A&E patients being seen within four hours of arrival.
Under the plans being considered, people with non-urgent medical needs would be advised to seek help at a GP surgery, walk-in centre or pharmacy instead - or face a possibly longer than four-hour wait in A&E. But elsewhere in this issue of the Socialist we report on the closures of walk-in centres!
This is at a time when overstretched A&Es and their dedicated overworked, underpaid staff are struggling to meet the basic needs of their patients. And the annual winter crisis is on the horizon.
This is a case of the NHS bosses, unable to meet the targets of providing quality care within a realistic timescale and, instead of tackling the problems of chronic staff shortages and underfunding, they simply move the goalposts which allow an unwanted statistic to be ignored.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), which represents A&E doctors, has signalled its opposition. It has warned that asking some patients to seek care elsewhere or wait a lot longer than at present would not deter those with minor injuries and illnesses from arriving.
Dr Taj Hassan, RCEM president, said a "woeful lack of resources to adequately staff and support emergency departments and increasing demand, combined with lack of acute bed capacity, has led to the present mess, with awful crowding in emergency departments." This will only get worse under proposed plans.
We demand a properly funded and resourced NHS in which staff can care for their patients in a safe, patient-focused way. They should be able to offer effective care and not need to worry about meeting unattainable targets.
NHS workers' trade unions should lead a fight against these plans and for more funding and staff and to kick out the weak Tory government.
We need an NHS that is fit for purpose, free at the point of use, and operated under democratic working-class control. Kick out the privatisers and save our NHS!
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