Patients and staff paying the price for the government’s failure to manage and invest sufficiently in the NHS says GMB
GMB, the union for NHS and ambulance staff, responded to figures released today by NHS England showing that the Cameron government has missed the four-hour A&E waiting time target by the widest margin since the target was introduced a decade ago.
From October to December 2014 92.6% of patients were seen in four hours. The figures for major A&E departments are especially alarming, with only 88.9% of patients seen in four hours.
NHS A&E figures have deteriorated since the 2010 general election. In October to December 2009, 97.8% of patients were seen in four hours.
A number of hospitals have recently declared "major incidents” as they struggle to find the capacity to meet demand.
GMB members in the ambulance service in England and Northern Ireland are considering a 48 hour continuous strike at end January as part of an escalation of strike action with other health unions in the pay dispute in the NHS.
The two day stoppage by GMB members in the ambulance service, should it go ahead, will commence at 12 noon on January 29th and will continue until 12 noon on 31st January. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on the pay dispute.
Martin Jackson, Theatre Nurse and Chair of the GMB NHS Committee, said “Frontline staff worked very hard over Christmas, often cancelling leave to deliver care and took the flak when all the while the chief, Mr Hunt, congratulates us for our efforts and insults us by not even awarding an expected 1% pay uplift.
Overstretched wards are not the fault of frontline NHS staff. Staff demand that the problem is sorted out, as we are not just getting the time needed to help patients achieve the best outcomes.”
Steve Rice, Chair of the Ambulance Committee said “I have worked for the Ambulance Service for almost four decades and in this time I have worked under 17 Secretaries of State for Health. Over the last few years, time and time again warnings signs have been there that the service is at stretching point.
Ambulance staffs have had one of the busiest Christmas and New Year periods and we are set to get even busier. The increase in waiting times means that we can’t hand patients over in A&E Departments. This means we can’t get back out on the road to get on with the job we do of saving lives”.
Rehana Azam GMB NHS National Officer said “Patients and staff are paying the price for the government’s failure to manage and invest sufficiently in the NHS. Staff morale is low and many staff are required to come in on their rest days to help deliver care in a service that is massively overstretched.
GMB did not take strike action in December in the on-going pay dispute but this goodwill won’t continue in the New Year. GMB is consulting with ambulance staff on what a 48 hour walkout projected for end of January will mean in a service under severe pressure.
NHS staff are expected to keep things ticking over while the Secretary of State for Health ignores calls to meet with unions to resolve a dispute and listen to the concerns of frontline NHS staff”.