More from Dr Louise Irvine in the Press Last Week

Here is some coverage from Dr Louise Irvine in the press last week:

Louise-IrvineLouise talked to BBC Radio Five Live (Thursday 22nd November) about the latest A&E waiting time statistics. You may listen to the recording of the interview here.

Last week we blogged one of Dr Louise Irvine’s citations in the press here: A&E is creaking under pressure admits NHS boss who says hospitals are struggling to cope.

Dr Louise Irvine authored an article in The Huffington Post: What Is Really Causing the A&E Crisis?

Blaming increased A&E attendance is a convenient way for the Government to avoid responsibility for the important factor that are contributing to the problem: lack of hospitals’ capacity to deal with the increasing numbers of sick people requiring admission.

But the crisis was predictable and should have been planned for. The changing demographics and rising admissions have been known about for years. The interaction between social services budgets and delayed discharge is likewise well understood. The solution is proper planning and investment in NHS and social services. The Government should be responsible for this. Instead it has brought in a top-down NHS reorganisation that no-one voted for which has led to disorganisation of healthcare and enforced £20billion “efficiency savings” in the past 5 years with another £30billion to come. Hospital, community, GP, mental health, and social care budgets have all been cut. Despite all the rhetoric there has been no serious investment in community and home based alternatives to hospital care.

The £700million ‘winter crisis funding” the Government is throwing at the problem is too little, too late. It is intended to avert political embarrassment in the run up to the election. Sadly it’s unlikely to have much impact on the conditions for patients or staff in our A&Es this winter.

Dr Louise Irvine issued a statement on the National Health Action Party website regarding A&E’s ‘worst week’ in England, with the lowest percentage of patients seen within four hours since monitoring began in 2010. Click here to read Louise’s statement here.

You may also like to read Dr Louise Irvine’s letter in the Evening Standard last week about A&E delays.

You attribute A&E delays partly to frivolous use of services by patients; but “too many people attending A&E” does not explain the winter crisis. Higher numbers attended A&E in June and July, yet cases meeting the four-hour performance target stayed above 92 per cent, compared with the first week in December when it dropped to 87.7 per cent.

The real explanation is the mismatch between the rising trend of hospital admissions and the cut in the number of acute beds, as evidenced by the dramatic increase in the number of people spending between four and 12 hours on trolleys before a bed is found. As admissions increase, delays in transferring patients to beds cause pressure in A&E and the four-hour performance falls. The beds shortage is compounded by delayed discharge from hospital due to social services cuts: delayed discharge figures for October were the highest since data collection started in 2010.

The impact on remaining A&Es is horrendous. Emergency doctors in Ealing describe arriving for a shift and being greeted with the words “there are no beds”. Staff spend precious time running around trying to set up beds in any corner they can find. Patients waiting for hours on trolleys risk deterioration.

This crisis was predictable and should have been planned for with proper investment. Instead we’ve had £20 billion “efficiency savings” in the past five years and another £30 billion to come, A&Es have been closed and hospital, community, GP, mental-health and social-care budgets cut.

The £700 million that the Government is throwing at the problem is intended to avert political embarrassment before an election. It’s too little, too late and unlikely to have much impact on the conditions for patients or staff in A&Es this winter.

Dr Louise Irvine, Lewisham GP, National Health Action Party

Louise was also cited in The Independent: English A&Es reach breaking point after worst ever week.

Dr Louise Irvine, of the National Health Action Party said that “exit-blocking” was being exacerbated by “dramatic cuts to social services budgets”, which meant delays in arranging care packages for patients outside of hospital.

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