It’s extremely unusual for NHS Doctors to use social media to make political statements, not least because their employers are unlikely to be impressed at the idea.
But an A&E consultant from Brighton has been driven to do just that by the situations he faces every day due to the Tories’ systematic underfunding of the NHS.
Dr Rob Galloway – who works on the frontline in A&E – has written an open letter to journalists asking for their help in telling the story of the crisis in the NHS, and pleading with them not to ‘peddle propaganda’ from politicians.
The heartbreaking Facebook post has been shared over 10,000 times in under 24 hours.
Dr Galloway is clear what the problem is, and it’s not quite the same story that Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is telling.
Writing on Facebook, Galloway says:
Dear Journalists, as an A&E consultant I am writing to ask for your help.
Up and down the country our A&E departments are in melt down, our staff are at breaking point.
Patients are being left in corridors because there are no ward beds for them to go to, staff are leaving shifts demoralised and exhausted and most importantly our patients are not getting the care they deserve.
We need the public to know about this, not to scaremonger, but for the truth to be out there – as the only way to get politicans to change – is by voters knowing the reality and prioritising the NHS at the ballot box.
But without the public understanding what is going on, we will continue to have this crisis year after year after year. This is where we need your help. We need you to report the reality and not peddle the propaganda from our politicians.
The crisis is much worse than what you report. We all talk about the 4 hour target and that we get around 90%. But that includes all the patients who don’t need admission. But for the ones who need admission, the % who get admitted within 4 hours is so so so much lower than that. And for those patients, it is crucial for their well being, that they get admitted within four hours.
Why are you not asking for these figures? That would help reveal the truth.
Then you report 12 hour breaches. But in England (but not the rest of the UK) the clock starts ticking when a specialist senior has seen them. So they can be in A&E for 18 hours and not be a 12 hour breach.
Why are you not asking for the figures of patients who stay in A&E for more than 12 hours? That would help reveal the truth
And what about asking how many patients are spending time in corridors?
Because if you did reveal these figures – you would soon see the real extent of the crisis. And it is a crisis. One which will lead to a breaking point soon unless something changes.
The fault does not lie with the patients. Yes a few inappropriately attend – but they are not the problem; they can be quickly turned around and discharged. The fault is not with the staff. They are working tirelessly and doing an amazing job despite the conditions they are working in.The fault does not lie with managers and hospital executives. They are working relentlessly to make things work as well as they can. And despite what the government peddle it certainly is not the fault of the GPs. Although there is falling numbers of GP surgeries, they are doing an amazing job at reducing the number of A&E attendances. Most importantly, the fault does not lie with the ‘system’ of the NHS – a model of care which utilities its resources to maximal effect.
The fault lies with the government. Years of failed austerity depriving NHS and councils of vital monies and investment is taking its toll. A&Es are struggling because of the frail elderly who need a ward bed but cant get one. They can’t get one because there are not enough beds within our hospitals (we have one of the smallest numbers of bed per capita in the whole of Europe) and because those that need to get out of hospital can’t because of a lack of social care. In addition some money which has been spent on the NHS had been wasted on pointless reorganisations designed to start the process of NHS privatisation
Please start reporting that. Please start reporting the truth. Please start reporting how close we are to melt down and please help get the public worked up about what is going on.
Because sadly our government don’t seem that bothered. They and their friends can afford private health care and therefore don’t rely on it. Even worse many would be happy to see our NHS privatised.
But for everyone else we need the NHS. The staff will battle on (and it is a battle at the moment). We will continue to do everything we can. We will continue to adapt, modernise and reform. We will continue to provide the most amazing possible care despite the conditions. But there is only so much our staff can take. And if we lose our staff we lose the NHS.
Journalists -we need your help. Please help.
And if you are not a journalist reading this, please share (publicly), or tweet it or send onto your friends in the hope that journalists will pick this up and start reporting the truth.
Rob Galloway A&E Consultant
Galloway says that the crisis is much worse than is being reported. In particular, he addresses the issue of the four-hour wait time target for A&E, and points out that it’s basically a con.
The target is that 95% of patients should be treated and discharged or admitted within four hours. This target is being missed by nearly all NHS Trusts but Dr Galloway suggests that for patients needing admission (as opposed to being treated and discharged), the percentage being dealt with within four hours is even lower.
Records are also kept of those waiting more than 12 hours (’12 hour breaches’). However, Dr Galloway says that in England (but not the rest of the UK), the clock only starts ticking when a specialist senior has seen the patient, leading to a situation where someone could be in A&E for 18 hours and yet not be counted as a 12 hour breach.
Galloways suggests that journalists should also be asking for figures of how many patients stay in A&E for more than 12 hours, as well as for how many patients spend time waiting in corridors.
Whilst Jeremy Hunt would like patients take some of the blame for the problems with A&E – see for instance the recent ‘fit to sit’ campaign, helpfully translated by one NHS doctor as ‘We’re morally OK with being enablers for this government’s devastating cuts. Get off the bed. Now’ – that’s not what doctors on the frontline think.
Dr Galloway says that whilst a few patients may attend inappropriately, ‘they are not the problem; they can be quickly turned around and discharged’. Neither is the problem the staff or the system. The problem, he says, is the government.
Jeremy Hunt continues to insist that the NHS is properly funded and that there’s no crisis. No crisis, when there are huge staff shortages, massive cuts to bed numbers, and real terms cuts in per capita funding.
And according to the British Medical Association, things are only going to get worse.
Dr Galloway is right: journalists need to report the voices of those on the frontline, and to expose the lies and sleight of hand from politicians who want us to believe that NHS funding can be shaved to the bone with no effect on patients or staff.
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