Michael Dugher MP

Working hard for Barnsley East

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Staff at Barnsley Hospital braving 'perfect storm'

It seems like the crisis in the NHS is never out of the headlines at the moment – and sadly we're not immune to the problems here in Barnsley.

According to latest official figures, only 87.7 per cent of patients admitted to Barnsley Hospital’s A&E were seen within four hours – well below the 95 per cent target set by government.

But these figures were for November (before the cold weather).  Despite the brilliant efforts of our dedicated NHS staff working under intense pressure, we may not know the worst of it yet. 

That's why last week Dan Jarvis and I met with Barnsley Hospital’s chief executive, Diane Wake, and chairman, Stephen Wragg, to discuss action being taken to deal with the problems.

The Hospital is doing its best and has implemented contingency plans to cope with the crisis.

The pressure on Barnsley Hospital has increased partly because people are finding it harder to see a GP, so they turn up at A&E. For others, by the time they've managed to get an appointment with the GP, their illness has worsened and they need to go to hospital.

Government cuts of £4.6 billion to social care budgets have also put huge strains on hospitals because they are unable to discharge vulnerable patients due to a lack of home care. 

There were always going to be pressures on the NHS - like an ageing population. But Government's cutbacks and bungling management of the NHS - like problems with NHS 111 - have created a perfect storm. And as I've argued, closing community pharmacies will only make things worse. 

It's time the Government got a grip. That includes putting more money into easing the crisis.  They could start with bringing forward the £700 million earmarked for social care in 2019/2020.

Responding to recent headlines, Ian McMillan tweeted: "I hope my last memory of the world is not the harsh light of a hospital corridor - and the sound of a rich country wringing its hands". Well said, Ian. 

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