|Coun Charmaine Morgan, Chair of SOS Grantham Hospital, says…|
The news from our Health Minister, under this newly elected Government, that there are proposals to stop measuring the 4 hour A+E target wait times is hugely concerning. Not only will we lose the ability to monitor the performance of the A+E units upon which we rely, we will also be less informed over which A+E to use.
Since the night closure of Grantham A+E, as campaigners warned, there has been more pressure on neighbouring units at Lincoln, Nottingham, Peterborough and Boston. Fewer patients overall however have been able to access services at night as walk-in patients with low incomes, unable afford taxi fares, particularly affected. Despite promises to look into it the CCG have not provided a much needed out of hours bus service, even though its in their gift to do so.
Whilst trust managers welcome a reduction in A+E use from Grantham patients, easing some pressure on the units open at night, we are left at risk. None of us are medical experts and self assessing whether a temperature, blotchy skin and general weakness is a cold or sepsis is not something most of us are qualified to do.
The loss of the A+E performance measure is a blow to anyone campaigning to save their A+E too. With closures continuing nationally, such as the unit in Poole, it is vital we have as much information as possible to defend our services. This is also true of any self respecting NHS management team or Health Minister wishing to improve services. How can they state services have improved with no benchmark? We lost our key death-in-transit measures as ambulance cuts were implemented.
This means our concerns regarding potential deaths due to delays in ambulances arriving, or, increased journey times, are summarily dismissed by trust managers.
These measurement changes look increasingly like those of a government and NHS wishing to hide failure rather than deliver the improvement to resources so badly needed.
What has triggered this change? As Brexit is rolled out do they fear the impact of the loss of European NHS staff on their targets and our health services? I am picking up reports of delayed cancer treatment as consultants leave our country.
Do they know a storm is coming and rather hope we won’t notice? If we do, we won’t be able to prove it.