Tag Archives: health

Baroness Joan Walmsley writes…Will new PM’s actions speak louder than her words?

On Tuesday, just two days before parliament starts its recess and less than a week after Theresa May first addressed the commons as Prime Minister, Sir Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, wrote about his priorities for the NHS. 

For most of us his comments and overall strategy will seem eminently sensible. The question I ask myself is this: Will Theresa May’s government pay lip service to Simon Stevens’ strategy or will they actually commit to the funds and action needed to carry it through?

You might say I am being unduly cynical and that I am not giving this new PM a chance. You may be right, although keeping Mr Hunt as her Secretary of State for Health does not strike me as very smart, given that he is so toxic to the doctors.

Stevens expresses concerns about two policy areas in particular – obesity & mental health, both of which are not getting the focus they deserve.

He points out the vital importance of effective action on obesity. This is not a matter of the nanny state lecturing people on how much they should eat. This is a critical health issue that affects the whole health service, not just in terms of funding but through the need to treat a whole range of different diseases. Financially the cost to the Treasury is now more than the police and fire services combined. One result of the separation of our health care services into NHS, on the one hand, and local authority social care and public health responsibilities on the other, is that it is your under-funded local council’s job to prevent obesity but it is the NHS that has to treat the myriad of diseases that arise from it. However, there are strong rumours that the long-awaited obesity strategy has been weakened because of business lobbying since it was first mooted by the government last year, while the LGA reports that funding cuts are threatening councils’ ability to be effective in this and other areas of public health.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Disastrous A & E figures emphasise need for independent commission on NHS future

Every day seems to bring new crushing evidence of the immense strain facing the NHS and social care. Missed key targets have become the norm rather than the exception; A&E is bearing the brunt of cuts to preventive and community services; and few were surprised when NHS trusts recently revealed a record deficit of £2.45 billion.

After hearing anecdotal accounts of ambulances queueing up outside A&E departments due to a lack of available beds in my own county of Norfolk, I decided to investigate the true scale of the problem across the whole country by submitting Freedom of Information requests to each Ambulance Trust in England.

What I discovered was far more shocking than I had feared. More than 10,000 patients were stuck in an ambulance for more than two hours waiting to be handed over to hospital staff last year – a staggering four-fold increase over just three years. The number of people having to endure waits of more than an hour before being admitted has almost trebled in the same period.

In total, almost 400,000 hours were wasted in the last year alone due to handover delays of more than 15 minutes, the national target for getting patients out of the ambulance and into the care of A&E staff. That’s equivalent to 16,554 days of patients waiting in limbo while ambulance crews and vehicles are unnecessarily tied up, unable to respond to new emergency calls.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: Cancer care in Wales

Kirsty Williams 2All the parties in Wales have been asked to write a blog for the Tenovus Cancer Care charity’s website. This is what Kirsty Williams had to say:

Cancer is something that will touch the life of everyone in Wales at some point. So when it does, the system needs to be ready to step up and give the treatment and care patients, and their families, need.

Yesterday the Welsh Liberal Democrats launched our manifesto for the next Welsh Government which contained a number of commitments that would transform cancer care. Cancer causes more than one in four deaths, yet Wales is the only UK nation without a cancer awareness campaign and there are huge variations in cancer outcomes within Wales, we must address this.

In government we would develop an all-Wales Individual Patient Funding Requests panel and remove the ‘exceptionality’ hurdle which prevents many patients’ access to drugs that their clinician thinks could help them. Your clinician should choose your medication, not your postcode.

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MPs must work together to safeguard our healthcare

As a doctor, every day I see the enduring effects of short-term political spin on my patients.

Hospitals bursting at the seams, short-staffed and lacking beds, are told desperately needed nurses will only be available if there is ‘surplus winter funding’. Patients ready to leave hospital wait weeks for ‘exceptional funds’ to secure specialist accommodation, while we face a 12% rise in delayed hospital stays. 

The Commonwealth Fund rightfully praised the NHS’s quality. Yet BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter warned we mustn’t be complacent over the perils of short-term partisan meddling. ‘A combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is undermining the very foundations of the NHS, as is the constant short-term interference from politicians of all colours.’

Reinforcing his counsel, unprecedented strikes showed the peril of capriciously uncosted manifesto pledges. This week NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens called for a national consensus on social care by 2018, as we learned we lag behind similar countries in spending.

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Do you agree with Floella Benjamin on mandatory sugar reduction targets?

Here’s a bit of controversy to liven up a Wednesday evening.

Floella Benjamin has written for Politics Home’s Central Lobby arguing in favour of mandatory sugar reduction targets. It’s another of these issues that you can use liberal principles to argue both for and against:

Many overweight children grow up to be obese adults and there are often serious health consequences for those affected, leading to tremendous pressures on the NHS, through the dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes, heart problems, some cancers and a wide variety of other conditions that require treatment. High sugar consumption is resulting in early tooth decay and is by far the highest cause of hospital admissions amongst 5-to 9-year-olds.

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Kirsty Williams blasts cuts to student nurses’ financial support

One of the worst elements of the Governemnt’s Comprehensive Spending Review was the proposals to cut bursaries for student nurses. This is particularly reprehensible given that nursing students spend so much of their time actually working on wards. In fact, there are many wards that would buckle under the pressure if they weren’t there.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, who has led the way in proposing a bill that would guarantee safe nurse staffing levels in Wales, has blasted the proposals and written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt to express her concerns. She said:

The UK already has a shortage of nurses; it’s outrageous that the Tories are now scrapping the valuable support available to student nurses. This will likely only exacerbate the problem by putting people off training to be a nurse.

This ill thought-out decision will badly impact student numbers in England, which would then no doubt have consequences for Wales’ ability to recruit too.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: My family are up in arms over ham but I’m raging over sugar

Nick Clegg’s been on a bit of a journey on his views about sugar consumption. In an article for the Evening Standard last week, he outlined the dangers of consuming too much hidden sugar and said that he now favoured strong action to reduce our sugar consumption:

Now, finally, we are beginning to have a proper debate about what we can and should do about it. A recent report by Public Health England proposed a number of measures, as has the ever- compelling Jamie Oliver.

Reducing two-for-one deals, clamping down on advertising targeted at children, reining in the marketing of high-sugar food and drinks, reducing sugar content and portion sizes, and introducing a tax on sugary drinks and food have all been called for.

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