Health matters

Devastating HSCP cuts will hit services, says MSP Baillie

HSCP cuts

The “devastating” cuts which will be implemented by the largely unelected HSCP.

Baillie Jackie MSP fishing

MSP Jackie Baillie has warned that the cuts made by West Dunbartonshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), which includes councillors and unelected GPs, will have a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

At their meeting on Wednesday SNP councillor, Marie McNair and independent councillor Denis Agnew, moved recommendations approving cuts to the health and social care budgets which include job losses.

The cuts include removing night shift cover in sheltered housing complexes; staff cuts to the Social Work team within Adult Care; the removal of staff within the Children and Families team; cutting the provision of external residential bed; changes to housing support for adults with learning disabilities and increasing charges for Blue Badges.  At the same meeting, Labour councillor John Mooney put forward a counter motion urging the board to reject the cuts to services and calling on the Scottish Government to properly fund the HSCP to protect services for the community but the motion received no support from the board.

MSP Baillie said: “The cuts which have been pushed through by the SNP and independent councillors will have a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our community. This yet again shows the disregard that this administration has for people across West Dunbartonshire.

Cutting health and social services – Councillors Agnew and McNair, both of whom have switched parties since they were first elected. And opposing cuts – Cllr John Mooney, Labour.

“Health & Social Care Partnerships are new bodies that were supposed to deliver better integration of care in our local areas, helping more people to stay at home. They haven’t had the best start, cutting services and jobs, ultimately due to a lack of funding from the Scottish Government.

At the end of the day it is local people that suffer and these decisions should be reversed.”

Cllr Mooney said: “I am extremely disappointed that the SNP members on the board of the HSCP chose to put up a motion which cut vital services for some of the most vulnerable people in our community and inflict job losses on council staff.

“The amendment which I tabled would have meant no cuts being made to current health and social care services in West Dunbartonshire and demanded that the Scottish Government properly fund a health and social care partnership which they set up just two years ago.”

Meanwhile, a report sneaked out by the Scottish Government suggests that it is planning to scrap the 31 and 62-day waiting time standards, with waiting time targets varying for different types of cancer.

The report proposes to ‘re-evaluate inclusion/exclusion criteria of cancer types subject to CWT (cancer waiting times) standards while taking into account the level of resource available for any additional data collection requests’ and ‘review evidence for making CWT standards timings variable according to tumour biology’.

MSP Baillie said the report was issued quietly, without a press release, in the hope that no-one would notice.

She added: “Cancer should be a national priority for Shona Robison, but instead she plans to fiddle with cancer waiting times, leaving people who are suspected of having cancer waiting longer for treatment.

“Figures released by the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have revealed that almost 20% of cancer patients are already waiting longer that the 62-day guarantee across the area. If cancer waiting times are scrapped people could be left waiting even longer for treatment which will only add to their worry.

“It is shameful that the health secretary tried to sneak this report out anyone noticing. The fact that she is trying to bury her bad news for cancer patients only adds to the mounting evidence that she is not up to the job. It’s time she stepped aside and gave patients a health secretary that they can rely on.”

Ambulances keep missing their targetambulances

Freedom of Information requests from Scottish Labour show that more than 20,000 ambulances failed to arrive to an ‘immediate life threatening incident’ within the 8-minute target last year –  that is 63% of all call outs in that category.

One patient in Dumbarton who has contacted Jackie was left waiting more than 4 hours for an ambulance to arrive while they lay in agonising pain after falling in their home.  The elderly patient, who has epilepsy and a heart condition had a fall in her home at midday and was left lying until 4.20pm when the ambulance eventually arrived. Her husband phoned 999 on two separate occasions, and received phone calls from the police and ambulance depot to check whether the ambulance had turned up.

Whilst the couple waited for the ambulance a fire crew was dispatched to make the patient as comfortable as possible during her more than four-hour wait.

The patient arrived at hospital at 6pm that evening where they discovered she had been left lying with a broken hip for all that time.

MSP Baillie said: “Reports that thousands of people are waiting longer than 8 minutes for emergency ambulances are shocking. There are thousands of people whose lives are being put at risk by delays to emergency treatment because of the severe pressure facing ambulance crews and medical staff across Scotland.

“Our ambulance crews are understaffed, under-resourced and under pressure. Our NHS cannot continue to go down this path, every aspect of our health service is stretched to breaking point and it is patients that are feeling the brunt of the problems.

“Enough is enough. This Scottish Government have been in denial about the extent of the health service’s problems for years. It is clear that Shona Robison is not up to the job and it is time she stepped aside.”

Waiting times targets missed

Hospital Glasgow South super hospitalThe new Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Glasgow.

Information published by ISD Scotland this week shows that 13,586 people waited longer than the 4 hour waiting time target in A&E departments across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde so far this year.

It also shows that more than 1,500 people have waited longer than 8 hours and more than 200 have waited longer than 12 hours in Accident and Emergency departments.

This performance means that more people are waiting longer in A&E this year than they were for the same period last year. At this point during the first three months of 2017, 9,953 people waited more than four hours in A&E’s across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, so it is disappointing that there has been an increase of 3,000 people having to wait longer.

MSP Baillie said: “NHS staff are not getting the support that they need from their health secretary and the SNP Government in Edinburgh and this has resulted in more than 13,000 people across Greater Glasgow and Clyde left waiting more than 4 hours in A&E departments for treatment so far in 2018.

“The waiting times in A&E departments are evidence of the devastating problems in our health service which are being caused by the health secretary’s refusal to properly fund our NHS and the Health and Social Care Partnerships that she created.

“It is also very short sighted not to use the capacity at the Vale of Leven hospital to help manage the pressure on the NHS. There are wards and theatres that could be used to take the strain off the Royal Alexandra hospital and treat people more locally.

“It is a shame that Shona Robison has lost control of her health portfolio and it is staff and patients who are suffering as a result.”

Operations cancelled

Robison Shona Sunday Post pic

Over 300 operations have been cancelled due to capacity or non-clinical reasons in Greater Glasgow and Clyde so far this year.

Data published by ISD Scotland shows that 122 operations were cancelled in March which adds to the 139 in January and 70 in February bringing the total for the 3 months in 2018 to 331.  The MSP said: “The 331 cancelled operations in Greater Glasgow and Clyde represent 331 people in the area who are waiting, in pain, for treatment that hospitals in the area have been unable to give.

“I deal with numerous cases on a daily basis of people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond who have had operations cancelled or who are waiting months in agony for treatment which hospitals are unable to provide because they are over-worked and under-resourced.

“This failure is just another example of this SNP Health Secretary’s [Shona Robison, pictured above] inability to manage the demand and scale of the operation facing our NHS. It is time she stepped aside and put patients before herself.”

Delayed discharge

Figures released to the board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde show that they are failing to meet targets on delayed discharge, cancer referrals and waiting times.

The paper shows that almost 1/3 of their key performance indicators were marked as red for 2017-18, meaning that they were out with 5% of meeting the target.

Some of the missed targets which are most alarming include referrals for patients who are suspected of having cancer. Patients who are referred for cancer diagnosis are supposed to be seen within 62-days, but in the health board area only 81% of patients are being seen within this time, almost 15% less than their 95% target.

The number of patients waiting more than 4 hours at A&E has also increased, with 12% of people waiting in A&E for longer than 4 hours last year.

More than 17% of patients across Greater Glasgow and Clyde waited longer than the 12-week treatment time guarantee in 2017-18, this amounts to 5,228 patients which is more than 2000 more patients than last year. Locally there are long waits for patients needing orthopaedic surgery which has previously been highlighted by Jackie Baillie in parliament and there is little evidence that these waits are improving.

The number of patients being delayed in hospitals across Greater Glasgow and Clyde is also consistently high. Last year, 4,332 bed days were lost to delayed discharge and in January 2018 NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde accounted for 12% of the total number of delayed patients reported across Scotland.

MSP Baillie said: “It is deeply worrying that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are yet again failing to meet their targets. It is not good enough to dismiss these problems. A failure to meet targets is failing patients. We are seeing patients waiting longer and longer for treatment and referrals locally, and even waiting longer to be discharged from hospital.

“The health board is not expecting to meet its cancer targets until March 2019, by that time thousands more people will have been waiting longer than 62 days to be seen for treatment. We know that early diagnosis and early treatment is key to recovery so this has potentially life threatening consequences.

“This is yet another example of the impact that the SNP’s budget is having on people
across Scotland. It’s time that Health Secretary faced up to the problems in our NHS and provided it with the funding that it needs to ensure that people’s health is not being put at risk.”

Bed blocking

It has also been revealed that the cost of Shona Robison’s broken promise on delayed discharge has continued to push up costs for NHS Great Glasgow and Clyde.

Figures published show that in March 2018 5,119 days were spent in hospital across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde by people whose discharge was delayed. This has pushed the number of bed days lost to delayed discharge to 200,695 across the region since the health secretary promised to eradicate delayed discharge in 2015.

The cost to our NHS has continued to rise, with the cost of delayed discharge in the period since the Health Secretary made her promise pushed to almost £47 million for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP Government’s mismanagement of our health service continues, with the costs of delayed discharge increasing all the time. That is money that could have been reinvested in our health service to improve patient care.

“Many of the delays in discharging patients stem from social care issues and delays in care assessments, these are all a result of the SNP Government slashing local authority budgets year on year, stretching an already overstretched workforce to breaking point.

“This health secretary’s crisis management approach to the NHS is affecting patients. It is time she put patients and families first and stepped aside to make way for someone who can improve our health service.”

Remarkably, no one from West Dunbartonshire SNP, which continues with its boycott of The Democrat, was available for comment on any of these health matters.

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