To read the headlines these days you could be forgiven for thinking that all the ills of the NHS are caused by the doctors strikes rather than the Government’ failure to fund the NHS properly or to reward staff for all their dedication over the last few years!
Ealing Save Our NHS (ESON) has been out on the streets again with our leaflets, to talk to local people about what is really happening in the NHS, and who are really to blame for the long waits for treatment – We think many of them already knew.
CONSULTANTS AND JUNIOR DOCTORS STRIKE TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME IN HISTORY
Junior doctors and Consultants for the first time in their history took joint strike action on 19th and 20th September with further joint action planned on 2,3,4 October.
That this situation has been allowed to happen can be laid firmly at the doors of this Government whose handling of industrial relations has been appalling, refusing to meet the BMA at all to discuss pay, now more than 180 days.
Both groups of doctors have seen their pay erode substantially and whilst the junior doctors’ demand is for pay restoration, the Consultants have told the Government they would accept 12%. However instead of making any meaningful offer to end the dispute, a below inflation pay award of six per cent for consultants and six per cent plus a lump sum for junior doctors has been imposed, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said is ‘final’.
This has not just been met by more strike action but also a 98% vote for further industrial action on a 71% turn out by the Junior Doctors!
But these strikes are not just about justice on pay; Consultant Oncologist Lucy Gossage has published a very moving account of why consultants are striking, outlining the challenges due to lack of staff and resources.
“I’m striking because so many of our workforce are burnt-out. The pressures of working in an overstretched service, balancing impossible demands, apologising for a failing system and knowing that, despite our best efforts, we’re not delivering our patients the service they deserve is soul destroying.”
The joint action came soon after Health Secretary Steve Barclay announced a consultation on minimum staffing levels in hospitals during strike days, potentially threatening staff with the SACK for exercising their right to strike. – Well that should sort it!
The longer the strikes continue the more likely staff will leave the NHS and patients will be the worse for it. In the meantime ESON will do our best to support them.
Junior Doctors and Consultants will be taking further joint action on 2, 3 and 4 October. The only pickets locally are at Northwick Park and Charing Cross.
You can read more from the BMA here
More from Lucy Gossage here
LETBY SHOWS WHISTLEBLOWERS IN THE NHS NEED PROTECTION:
The Lucy Letby case has propelled NHS whistleblowing into the headlines once again. It has already been revealed that senior doctors acted as whistleblowers and reported their concerns, but these were not acted upon by management.
Whistleblowing in the NHS has over the years been an essential method for protecting patients and staff. Whistleblowers have brought to light a number of high profile scandals, including the serial murderer GP Harold Shipman, the Bristol heart surgery scandal, and the rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson.
Despite legal protection provided by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and the creation of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, whistleblowers continue to suffer negative consequences including dismissal, from their actions and scandals continue to be uncovered.
Dr Patricia Mills, an anaesthetist at West Sussex Hospital who raised concerns about a doctor injecting himself with drugs on duty was subjected to a disciplinary investigation verging on victimisation for nearly 2 years. She was eventually exonerated but it has taken its toll.
Letby certainly shows us that not just the law but management culture needs to be overhauled so that staff can feel safe in speaking up and protecting patient safety.
More on this story here
ESON BACK OUT ON THE STREETS EARLIER THIS MONTH:
ESON was back on the streets in Ealing Broadway last week with our lovely supporters and our popular leaflet here. There was still lots of public support for striking doctor’s fighting for decent pay and a safe NHS, despite all the misinformation in the media. The growth of the private sector within the NHS, now around 25% still comes as a shock to many people.
Most people like to sign a petition or something similar to help. We will be producing a postcard calling on our MPS to support a properly funded NHS, an end to privatisation and decent wages and condition for our lovely NHS staff. Well there is an election coming!!
WATCH THIS SPACE for more details.
MENTAL HEALTH WARD CLOSURES – THE LATEST
ESON Campaigners observing a recent Board Meeting of the West London NHS Trust were shocked to hear that the occupancy rate for adult acute Mental Health beds in the area is at 96%. That means the wards are way over the acceptable 85% target and that there will be considerable pressure on staff to discharge very ill patients to make room for other admissions.
SO WHY IS OCCUPANCY SO HIGH? During Covid the Trust closed the Hope and Horizon wards, the last two wards for acute adult mental health patients in Ealing, with the loss of 31 beds and “replaced” them with only 18 beds in Lakeside on the West Middlesex site in Hounslow. Clearly the loss of beds is having a substantial effect, along with the growing number of people in crisis. The Police and Prison Service complain they can’t substitute for professional Mental Health care – nor can the regular A&E wards.
We clearly need more beds but despite overwhelming opposition from local people to the loss of acute beds in the Borough, and the huge pressure on remaining beds, the West London NHS Trust Board Meeting agreed to permanently close the wards (subject to final approval from the NW London NHS).
To make things even worse , another nearby NHS Trust in North West London is planning to close a whole Hospital for mental health patients. The Central and North West London Trust wants to close the Gordon Hospital with the loss of more than 60 mental health beds.
ESON along with campaigners in Hammersmith & Fulham Save Our NHS have been lobbying hard for no bed cuts to be made permanent without a proper NW London wide Strategy for the mental health needs of our population. That is taking place now.
It seems clear to us that funding cuts are forcing the Trusts to adopt ever more policies of ‘care in the community’ – even for mental health patients in severe crisis. Some people have turned to private hospitals were they have suffered neglect as well as considerable cost – see the story on Cygnet Private Hospital in Ealing
Ealing Save Our NHS and other campaigners will continue to shout out about the need for proper resourcing for Mental Health and hope the politicians will finally listen.
PRIVATE MENTAL HEALTH HOSPITAL IN EALING HIT BY MASSIVE FINE FOR DEATH IN THEIR CARE
Private mental health services in NW London have recently been in the spotlight when US company, Cygnet, one of the biggest private mental health providers in the country, were fined just over £1.5 million in a prosecution brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over failings to provide safe care in its Ealing hospital where a young woman took her own life despite multiple indications that she might self-harm.
It is the largest fine for a mental health service as a result of a prosecution brought by CQC.
This is only the most recent case where coroners have identified serious failings at Cygnet and other private mental health providers in recent times. Cygnet, which is owned by US company United Health Services pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment, but clearly hadn’t learnt from previous incidents!
It is worth reading the Guardian report which points out that the NHS now gives £2 billion to private mental health providers.
END OF LIFE & PALLIATIVE CARE CONSULTATION – HAVE YOUR SAY
Over the last year a new model of care for community specialist palliative and end of life care has been developed by a group of NHS staff, clinicians, hospice staff and local residents in North West London. There is huge variation in the range and quality of services provided across all the eight Borough now covered by NW London NHS so improving care options and access to high quality care is to be welcomed.
Ealing Save Our NHS is currently discussing our response to the new model. There are lots of things we support in principle including; 24/7 advice lines; extending days and hours of specialist teams; new common standards for psychological and bereavement support and expanding the lymphoma service. However we are concerned about the reduction of bed numbers since the closure of the Pembridge Unit in West London, and in particular, the lack of information on funding and staffing, without these being properly factored in, it could end up being just a wish list.
HAVE YOUR SAY:
On Thursday 5th October from 6.00pm to 7.30pm NW London NHS has an online event residents to share their views and feedback on the proposed model of care.
The organisers say “This event is especially aimed at local people from Hounslow and Ealing as we want make sure their voice is heard as we look to develop services for adults that meet all of our diverse communities needs and provide high quality care and good patient experience when they are on their journey to the end of their life”
If you have a experience of using or providing end of life / palliative care services it would be good if you could share your views.
Link to join the meeting here
The full document of 143 pages can be read here (Page 107-8 summarises the changes for Ealing residents)
A much shorter summary 8 page summary can be read here
A GOOD NEWS STORY ON PRIVATISATION
Earlier this year we reported that Ealing Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre, was no longer being run by private company Totally PLC, after the NW London Integrated Care Board (NHS) had terminated Totally’s contract due to concerns about performance and staffing. It was then taken back in-house to be run by the Hospital so we have had an integrated UCC and A&E.
The contract to run all six Urgent Care Centres in NW London, including Ealing has since been re-tendered and we are delighted to say that they have been won by the four NHS Trusts in NW London ( Imperial, Chelsea & Westminster, Hillingdon & London North West who run Ealing, Northwick Park and Central Middlesex Hospitals).
The separation of the Urgent Care Centres (UCC) from A&E was very confusing for patients who were often asked to repeat the same tests and provide the same information when being referred from the UCC to A&E and there were regular complaints about the service. So it’s good news for patients and bad news for the privateers!
Nice to finish on some good news!