Accident & Emergency departments around the country are coming under increasing strain as the additional pressures of the winter months take their toll. But A&E staff are working harder than ever and are coping admirably – particularly at North Tees – despite the uphill challenge they face, according to Alex Cunningham.
The cumulative actions of the Tory-led Government have meant that, across the country, the NHS is facing an A&E crisis. This situation is predicted to become worse over the coming winter months with more ambulances queuing up outside A&E units and more people waiting longer before being seen.
Under the previous Labour government, A&E was performing well with 98% of patients seen within four hours. But since the 2010 general election, the number of patients waiting over four hours has more than doubled and ambulance queues have doubled as well.
“A prominent factor underlying the increase in A&E waiting times has been the cuts to social care budgets, meaning more older people are ending up in hospital because there is no one else to take care of them. With £1.8 billion cut from adult social care budgets since 2009/10, elderly people are not getting the care they need at home or in the community, leading to increased demand for emergency care when problems occur.
“This is on top of the needless £3 billion top-down reorganisation which has caused chaos within the NHS, as well as the loss of 6,642 nursing jobs that has made the situation in A&E much worse. The unfolding crisis in A&E is a clear symptom of a system under pressure and there is no more visible sign than ambulances queuing up outside A&E units and patients waiting longer to be seen.
“Nonetheless, I know that staff at North Tees Hospital are working exceptionally hard to do a demanding job in very difficult circumstances, and I pay tribute to them for their magnificent efforts.”
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said:
“There’s only one person responsible for the winter A&E crisis, and that’s David Cameron.
“The Government needs to accept responsibility and develop an urgent plan to relieve the pressure. After an unprecedented summer A&E crisis, it is clear they have lost control of the situation.
“In the last 12 months, a million people have waited more than four hours in A&E. Four-hour waits in A&E are up, trolley waits are up, ambulance queues are up, delayed discharges are up and we’re even seeing people being ferried to hospitals in police cars because ambulances aren’t available.”