NO ROOM AT THE HOSPITAL !
“Is that what we’re being reduced to? Just die quietly and don’t make a fuss? No!” Jean from Langworthy
On Saturday there is a `No room at the hospital’ rally in Manchester against NHS cutbacks in Greater Manchester. In the run-up, the Salford Star presents a series of articles highlighting the state of the NHS.
We start with a Salfordian cancer patient at The Christie who has experienced cancelled appointments and long waits for treatment because there were no beds. The Christie states that its £7.5million cuts this year won’t impact on the quality of care. But this patient’s friend says `Enough is enough!’
“Ask yourselves who’s to blame for this – it’s not us, it’s not the medical staff, it’s not people who work in housing offices, job centres, who is it? We’re paying for austerity, for the bankers…” Jean
Jean McCabe’s ex-partner and friend, Sam, aged 74, has an inoperable GIST, or Gastrointestinal stromal tumour; a rare form of cancer, and has been having treatment at The Christie for over twelve months.
One of the distressing and uncomfortable side symptoms he has is the build up of abdominal fluid, which impacts severely on breathing and the ability to eat. Last month, Sam had to get the fluid drained but when he and Jean turned up at the hospital for the appointment they were told the procedure couldn’t be carried out because Jean says, there was a shortage of beds.
“He’d packed his stuff and took a little bag, only to discover there was no bed, and I could see on that doctor’s face the terribleness of having to tell us” she says “I can’t imagine what it’s like for that doctor to say `You can have the procedure because there’s no bed’
“We were offered the option of attending Salford Royal who could do the procedure that day but this would have resulted in Sam missing an important very early morning scan at The Christie the following day” she adds “In effect, there was no choice. Needless to say, we went home and returned to The Christie the following morning.”
Sam had the scan and a heart test which were all completed by 10:45am but when they got to the ward for the fluid drain, again there were no beds…
“He waited and waited and we spoke to the nurse who said they were waiting for a bed to be free” Jean recalls “Sam was just sitting there tired and exhausted and the fluid impacted on his breathing. We were trying to make him comfortable but he needed the fluid drained. They had a trolley for him to lie on but he just sat there looking more and more despondent although he never complained
“Eventually they started the drain on this trolley thing and he ended up on the bed at around 3pm; we’d waited almost three hours” she says “While we were waiting there was copy of the Daily Mail lying around so I opened it and there was story about how Prince Phillip had had some procedure and how healthy he now is, going swimming every day and all this stuff. I thought `That bloody parasite!’ I was fuming.”
Jean knows in her heart that her friend’s treatment was all about the cuts to the NHS…
“The staff were extremely good to Sam, ensuring he was as comfortable as possible under the circumstances” she explains “I can’t stress enough that I do not blame the medical staff at The Christie for this appalling state of affairs. And I am sure this is happening on a daily basis throughout the NHS.
“Sam is also under Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and when we attend there for his eye treatment it’s the same story” she adds “There are queues of people waiting to be seen and staff working under extreme pressure…all this because the NHS is starved of funding. Over the last year, we’ve gone to Sam’s appointments and seen the queues for blood tests, queues for everything…
“I think it’s affecting everyone, ” she says “I don’t believe there is a person in Britain that hasn’t been impacted in some way by cuts to every single service. We’re reduced to food banks, charities, we’re being impoverished. They want us to go away and die as quickly and as quietly as we possibly can and don’t make a sound about it.
“I worked, Sam worked, we paid national insurance” she adds “My family’s worked…we’ve all worked and paid for this. We haven’t paid for us not to get a doctor’s appointment or not to have a bed in the hospital when you need it. When I came back from the hospital I put the news on and heard about secret cuts to the NHS and that the managers are not to discuss them.”
Jean, who lives in Langworthy, is a remarkable woman because having been at the sharp end of the NHS crisis, she’s angry but she knows the game of life that’s being played out at some weird chief executive, Tory Government, corporate level…
“First it was single parents to blame for everything, then it was young girls having babies, then it was overweight people to blame for the NHS, then it’s immigrants, then it’s people are living too long…that’s the problem, we’re all to blame for the NHS” she explains “We’re all getting older and sicker but it’s our fault? We’re now bed blockers! No!
“We have to wake up and ask ourselves how all this happened,” she says “Ask ourselves who’s to blame for this – it’s not us, it’s not the medical staff, it’s not people who work in housing offices, job centres, who is it? We’re paying for austerity, for the bankers. This is a system that has nothing to offer us except poverty. Just poverty, and more poverty.
“My mum is still alive and she remembers when she had to pay to have children; people died because they couldn’t afford a doctor” she says “Is that what we’re being reduced to? Just die quietly and don’t make a fuss? No.
“People have to speak out and ask `How have we got to this?’” she concludes “If we don’t look at how we’ve got to this we’ll end up with nothing. If we don’t join together and do something we will end up with nothing, our kids will end up with nothing. We will work ’til we die and our grandkids will have nothing.
“Enough is enough” Jean insists…
The Salford Star asked The Christie to comment on the lack of beds and a £7.5million cut to its budget, also known as CIP, Cost Improvement Programme. A spokesperson for The Christie said:
“Like all NHS Trusts, The Christie is required to deliver a cost improvement programme (CIP) to ensure we reach our financial target. Our CIP target for 2016/17 is £7.5m which is in line with the national efficiency requirement set by the NHS.
“The way in which we deliver our CIP is this through transformational change and improved efficiency. This means that we look at new ways of delivering the care we give to our patients to ensure it is cost effective without impacting on the quality of our care.
“We have not reduced our bed capacity and are reviewing ways in which patients are admitted and discharged so that we optimise the use of our beds. Other key work streams to deliver savings include reviewing the prices we pay for goods and services to ensure we are receiving value for money.
“We are also investing in technology to improve our administrative processes and the development of an Integrated Procedures Unit at the Trust due to open in 2017, means that our patients will benefit from shorter waiting times, treatments completed more quickly and big improvements in patient privacy and dignity.”
`No Room at the Hospital’ Rally Against Greater Manchester NHS Cutbacks
Saturday 10th December
Assemble by the Central Reference Library in St Peter’s Square, Manchester 12.45 to set off 1pm.
This is Part 1 of a three-part Salford Star series on the state of the health service in Salford and Greater Manchester – see Part 2: Salford Breast Service `Not Viable’ and Moved To Wythenshawe – click here