NHS England told the BBC this morning that it’s inaccurate to call the NHS crisis a crisis, because they have a plan. This is an interesting take, as you can of course plan for crises without them being anything other than crises.
But the truth of the claim has been challenged by the situation at St Helier hospital in Surrey, where locals have told the SKWAWKBOX that children have been sent home or had treatment cancelled, as an entire so that the Trust can give their beds to adults.
The mother of one of the children said:
My daughter’s test was cancelled and we were not told until she got there. How does the trust expect to cope with situations like this in future when they’re planning to close our hospitals and spend money on a new facility that won’t increase bed numbers at all?
The Trust has failed to respond to a request for more information, but told a parent of an affected child:
The rescheduling of appointments is something we do only as a last resort, and is something we try to avoid doing as much as we can. However, in order to appropriately care for the high numbers of patients we currently have at our hospitals, we have had to use our full bed capacity on both of our sites in order to appropriately care for our sickest patients.
This has resulted in us having to reschedule some patient appointments to make room. We will endeavour to re-book any patients who have had their appointment cancelled as soon as we possibly can, but in the interest of patient safety, our first priority must be to provide care to our sickest patients in need of emergency care.
It’s highly debatable whether ‘some patient appointments’ adequately addresses the reality of an entire children’s ward being closed ‘as a last resort‘, but that is what has happened at St Helier.
Such extreme measures – especially as a last resort – make a mockery of NHS England’s claim that there is no crisis.
And they make Jeremy Hunt’s claim that the current situation in the NHS – the cancellation of many tens of thousands of procedures and the commandeering of at least one children’s ward – represents a long-planned improvement on previous crises.
On the contrary, we’re in a crisis of unprecedented proportions – even though demand decreased since last year.
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