UNISON Cymru statement on the pressures on our hospitals

Head of health Donna Hutton yesterday issued the following statement on the current pressure on the NHS and particularly A&E departments across Wales.

“Our health services are under great pressures now – as people fall ill in the colder weather and the fact that we have an aging population which requires more care. Staff in A&E departments and in hospitals across Wales are working as hard as they possibly can to deliver quality care. They are our public service champions.

“As demand soars for emergency and other patient care, the Tories have cut the health budget to Wales.  It is not our Welsh NHS to blame, but the people holding the purse strings in Westminster. The increase in demand for these services is unsustainable; it puts lives at risk for those who need immediate life saving treatment and is dispiriting for those waiting many hours in Emergency Departments when they should have been given urgent medical advice sooner, by a different route.

“We see similar issues within social care. A rise in the number of older people who need homecare support to live independently requires decent funding and a fairly rewarded workforce. The UK Conservative government’s brutal spending cuts have pushed councils to make cuts in social care and this not only damages care for the individual but increases demand on wider health services.

“How can we make things better in the short term? Improved access to GP and dental surgeries outside of ‘normal’ working hours would take some pressure off emergency services. People are reluctant to use out-of-hours services as these are often not easily accessible and patients frequently turn up at A&E. GP services should be available 24/7 in A&E departments to allow for the patient to be directed immediately to a GP rather than taking the time of an emergency doctor. This could work in conjunction with the 111 service.

“UNISON has worked very hard to promote the Choose Well campaign amongst employers to educate and advise patients about alternative healthcare options such as NHS Direct Wales , a local minor injuries unit and pharmacists etc.”