Just been listening to a piece on BBC Radio 5 Live about ambulance waits at Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments – the phenomenon whereby ambulances are unable to discharge patients because A&E departments are unable to cope with demand.
Various callers – doctors, nurses, patients, NHS managers – spoke of the obvious: that massive cuts in funding and nurse numbers have resulted in A&Es straining at the seams as staff struggle valiantly to cope without any realistic hope of doing so. This is exactly what caused the problems at Stafford hospital’s A&E (though not the ‘1200 needless deaths’ fallacy that most of the media trot out – well done 5 Live for not doing so).
Callers were virtually unanimous in the view that funding and staff cuts are a root cause of this problem – as indeed Robert Francis concluded in his report on Stafford. The cumulative effect of these cuts to funds and numbers is a rise of 58% in ambulance waits of 30 minutes or longer .
The government’s ‘solution’ to this situation? Fines.
Cash-strapped hospitals will be fined £200 for every time an ambulance has to wait 30 minutes at A&E – and £1,000 for every wait of an hour or more.
Isn’t this so typical of this deceitful, underhand government? Imposing a ‘solution’ that actually exacerbates the problem it’s supposed to solve – and puts lives at risk as either A&E’s struggle even more, or hospital managers are forced to divert funds from other parts of the hospital to shore up A&E to avoid the fines.
Jeremy Hunt completely ignored Robert Francis’ key conclusion in his so-called ‘response’ to the Francis report. He is wilfully ignoring the real cause of A&E problems and imposing fines that will make them worse. All while planning to close ‘failing’ hospitals.
You have to wonder why that is.