I have just launched the first NHS Check Oldham report which includes local case studies, with the help of heart attack survivor David Shipp, from Saddleworth. The full report can be read here
The first of my NHS Check Oldham quarterly reports concentrates on local Accident and Emergency (A&E) services and examines how national policies from the coalition Government are affecting local health and care services in Oldham East and Saddleworth.
I’m really grateful to David for sharing his A&E story with me to help launch the NHS Check Oldham reports. It’s people like David, who’ve used the NHS, that can be the best advocates for it. And, having gone through the system as patients, they are often best placed to give advice about improvements from a patient’s perspective too.
The report includes David’s case study, along with other local people, who described their experiences of local emergency and urgent care at a recent NHS Listening Event I held. I also gained valuable insights into the everyday issues the staff have to deal with during a visit to Royal Oldham’s A&E department in December 2013.
A&E is like a barometer for the NHS as a whole. It acts as an ‘early warning system’ for any problems in the NHS. For many people it is their first port of call when problems occur in other parts of the system.
Last year, in spite of a fall in the number of people attending type 1 A&E units across the country, we saw the first summer A&E crisis in living memory with hospitals struggling to treat patients in a timely manner and over a million people waiting over 4 hours in the last 12 months.
The publishing of these reports is one of my top ten priorities for Oldham East and Saddleworth; because the NHS and care services are important to many of my constituents. I am concerned that David Cameron has left the NHS unprepared for this winter and hospitals are struggling to cope. Nationally there are fewer nurses, fewer beds and fewer senior A&E doctors.
Adult social care budgets have been cut, and as a result we’re seeing more and more elderly people having to go to A&E, and more and more delays in helping them get home again when they’ve finished their treatment. This is a false economy and is why Labour has said we will bring health and social care together into a single service, to put an end to the situation where older people are having to go into A&E because the help isn’t there at home or in the community.
We would also reinstate the requirement that GPs must offer an appointment within 48 hours, which the coalition Government abandoned in June 2010, to ensure patients are able to access primary care services promptly.