MP says NHS is ‘on its knees’ and urgent action is required

Michael Dugher has called for urgent action on the NHS crisis after new figures revealed just 87.7 per cent of patients admitted to Barnsley Hospital’s A&E unit were within the four-hour target time.

The Barnsley East MP blasted the Government’s “shambolic mismanagement” of the NHS after the number of A&E patients seen at the town’s hospital within the target time fell dramatically.

Hospitals nationwide have been set a target of seeing 95 per cent of A&E patients within a four-hour target time.

Mr Dugher had a meeting last week with the chief executive of Barnsley Hospital to discuss performance at A&E and ongoing challenges facing the NHS in Barnsley.

But Mr Dugher said Government mismanagement, bed shortages and difficulties in accessing GP appointments meant Barnsley and hospitals across the country were struggling to cope – despite the best efforts of their dedicated staff.

There have also been reported problems of ambulances not being able to process patients into hospital adequately, and Government cuts of £4.6 billion to social care have also put huge strains on A&E. 

The latest figures for Barnsley Hospital A&E unit shows that only 87.7 per cent of patients were seen within four hours in November – down from 94.7 per cent in September and 93.2 per cent in October. 

The figures show that 832 of the 6,788 patients who attended Barnsley Hospital’s A&E unit  in November waited more than four hours. This is a sharp rise from the previous month when more people attended the unit but far fewer waited more than four hours.  In October, 7,097 attended Barnsley’s A&E, but only 484 patients waited more than four hours. 

Mr Dugher warned the pressure on hospitals like Barnsley would only increase if the Government ignored his campaign to keep open community pharmacies and pressed ahead with its cuts to the network of chemists.

Last Wednesday, Mr Dugher voted in favour of a Labour proposal at Westminster  that called on the Government to inject more cash into social care services to help overstretched hospital departments cope this winter.

His intervention comes after a week of turmoil in the NHS saw the British Red Cross described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis” with many patients left on trolleys in corridors.

Said Mr Dugher: Despite the very best efforts of the dedicated NHS doctors, nurses and other staff at Barnsley Hospital, more patients are having to wait longer than the four-hour target at the A&E unit.

Our health service is on its knees and one third of hospitals across the country have asked for urgent help to deal with the number of patients coming through their doors.

The Tories cut £4.6 billion worth of funding from social care in the last Parliament, putting extra pressure on already overstretched A&E departments and GPs surgeries. They wasted billions on a top-down reorganisation that nobody voted for. And if planned cuts to community pharmacies go ahead, this will only make a dire situation even worse.

Instead of changing the policies, Jeremy Hunt wants to change the targets for A&E. This will not solve the problem for patients who have to endure long waits for treatment or relieve the pressure on dedicated NHS staff. 

The Government must bring forward the £700m of social care funding planned for 2019/20 now and halt its ill-thought out cuts to community pharmacies”.


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