Statement on Health Cuts - Hugh McCloy
I take this opportunity to completely condemn the proposal to close more beds at the Mid Ulster Hospital site and other services across the Northern Trust.
This slash and burn move to try and save money will only cause suffering to those who use the services and put more strain on the remaining acute hospitals, the already over stretched community nurses, ambulance service and more.
It is disgusting that these moves are not being made in the interest of patient safety; these moves are purely political and financial to keep political parties in Stormont in a job.
No doubt there will be opposition from this at a council level but let’s not forget it is the very same parties at council level are making these or allowing these decisions to happen in Stormont.
As we reach the winter period we meet the busiest time of the year in the health service, any moves by the Trust to further reduce the capacity of its emergency care units and bed capacity is reckless and should only be done after a full risk assessment to these moves are carried out.
Valaire Watts, CEO of the Health & Social Care Board should also be investigated into why she stated to the Human Rights Inquiry into emergency care that Trusts had enough resources to meet A&E targets in September, to what she is implementing now. If she has lied to the Human Rights Inquiry she should be immediately removed from her post.
Removing Whiteabbey Minor Injury Unit- could potential leave an extra 900 patients a month attending the already overcrowded Antrim & Royal A&E's, on top of this a further potential of 1,600 patients per month could been seen elsewhere from the Armagh & Bangor areas that will further compound Craigavon, Daisey Hill and Ulster A&E's
The removal of inpatient beds at Mid Ulster - will damage the ability of the already critical Antrim A&E to deliver a safe service and leave Mid Ulster patients travelling further for services that we promised to be delivered in a local setting.
Bed capacity is the primary reason that A&E's cannot cope, when the wards fill up A&E's grind to a halt, in the past in Antrim we seen patients lined up in the corridors and at times still do. We see wards designed for 6 patients hold 8 along with beds placed in front of fire exits. This has massive implications for infection control and safe nurse to patient ratios.
When wards fill up and beds are not available this then affects day case and inpatient surgery, this will also be harshly affected by these moves.
The emergency readmission rate in Antrim is already alarmingly high, patients are being discharged to free up beds without the proper after care with Allied Health Professionals and community nurse.
Allied health professional waiting lists for patients over 9 weeks has rocketed from being in the hundreds to now in the thousands, with community nurses already working hours they are not getting paid for with less travelling allowances.
With fewer local services and minor injury services there will be a bigger reliance on the ambulance service who already is only meeting 42% of life saving calls in Mid Ulster.
As with before any pressures that cannot be met within the Northern Trust will spill into the Belfast Trust creating another winter of chaos and another winter where preventable deaths will occur not just in our hospitals but in people homes.
Again I am calling on our political institutions to create an independent care commission for health, like the Quality Care Commission in England & Wales, that has the power above and beyond RQIA and the Patient Client Council to take on health trusts and any failures that are and likely to occur.
I will also call on the Mid Ulster Council to take a stance now and rescind the agreement made by Magherafelt Council during the last health consultation but made in private as to not raise awareness in the public domain to further shut down Mid Ulster Hospital. Anthony Tohill has the opportunity now to do what Magherafelt Councillors and their parties did not and officially take a stance on services in this area for the betterment of people in this area.
This is the first test for the new council that is made up of the same faces, let’s see them start as they mean to go on and send a message that they are prepared to help Mid Ulster residents as a council and come out against their party colleagues bid to shut health services in Mid Ulster.
Save the Mid also requested to meet the new CEO of the Northern Trust in September, even though now the trust board only meets every other month instead of the usual monthly meeting he has not found the time to meet with the group, this meeting will be requested as a matter of urgency.
Deaths in acute hospitals is rising, this should not be the case in an ever developing health service, I will have more on deaths in our hospitals in my next statement due to some of the information be classed as copyrighted and not for public view despite being paid for by public money, ref https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dr_foster#incoming-548878
The savings as present offer the opportunity for the health trusts to make "One Off" savings to meet their budgets by the end of march 2015.
For a working example of a ‘one-off saving’ a good case study to look at is the closing of two wards at Mid Ulster hospital. It was defined via Modernisation & Recovery 2010 as a one-off (approximately) £800,000 saving to help meet the Trust’s target. However the demand for beds still existed, meaning the Trust had to rent 15 beds and nursing staff from a private hospital to do the same job at a cost of just over £1,000,000 a year.
So on one hand the Trust could subtract £800,000 of the target they had to make savings from, but this ‘one-off saving’ cost their budget £200,000. The demand is still needed year on year so the one-off saving has become yet another recurring cost.
I often wonder how the private health care hospital got planning permission right beside a public hospital; maybe our politicians know something that we don’t to allow this to be passed? The private hospital is located across the road from Antrim Area Hospital and where the 15 beds are located. The health budget system is more toxic than the current mortgage system because it is being run like a private enterprise. Health Trusts have been deferring the amount they have to cut for many years as it was clinically unsafe to make them. If they only made £8 million of their target (of £10 million) they roll over a deficit to the next year only to find they have to make yet more cuts. As I said, toxic. This begs the