Hundreds of nursing staff from across England will join a march and demonstration in London today.
The People’s Assembly claim that the NHS winter crisis has now descended into a perpetual year-round-crisis – bringing staff to their knees and patients languishing and even dying in overcrowded waiting rooms and hospital corridors.
In a statement on their website, they say “It is time this Government stops blaming patients, nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for their shortcomings. It’s time they start listening to the country who is sick of empty promises from the mouths of cowardly politicians. The Tories must heed the call of the public, staff and patients alike who demand that #ourNHS is not only funded properly but brought back into public hands away from the waste and demands of shareholders and bankers’ bonuses”
Royal College of Nursing members will be supporting campaigners, other unions and patient groups as part of the ‘NHS in crisis: Fix it now’ event.
Activists will march through central London from noon before holding an hour-long rally opposite Downing Street.
The event is staged as the latest official NHS performance figures demonstrate the need for extra Government investment to ease the current pressure on hospitals.
Sheena Archer, a member of the RCN in the South West, who will travel to London on Saturday, said ahead of the event:
“I’m going on the march because I’m really sad at our NHS going down the drain. It’s heart-breaking to see.
“I’m a health care assistant and the NHS has saved my life three times. How long before my team is privatised like others?
“With the winter crisis, morale is at an absolute low. We’ve got to stand up for each other – patients deserve better and we deserve better too.
“The hospital can’t run without the cleaners; the patients couldn’t eat without the kitchen staff; the staff can’t get paid without the payroll department; and the hospital can’t run without IT.”
RCN President, Cecilia Akrisie Anim, who is set to address the rally will say:
“Nursing staff are bearing the brunt of the enormous pressures facing the NHS.
“Staff at every level are experiencing burnout and many of our colleagues are turning their back on jobs they love. It’s no surprise that nursing staff feel overstretched and undervalued. There are now more than 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone.
“2018 is 70 years since the formation of the NHS and nurses have always been at the heart of it. Urgent action is needed to address the current crisis – if none is taken, it is our patients who will suffer. We will continue to speak out to defend our NHS.”
The march comes only 24 hours after NHS England announced it was to suspend the four-hour target for accident and emergency departments in England.
Bill calling for safer staffing legislation put before Parliament
There are now 43,671 vacant nursing posts throughout the NHS in England alone.
The Bill will seek to “establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”
Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, nurse and member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), today brought a Bill designed “to establish legally enforceable nursing staffing levels in the NHS in England.”
The Bill comes as nursing vacancy rates hit a record high with 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone – leaving 12% of full-time nursing posts unfilled.
In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the RCN highlights the impact the nursing staffing crisis is having on patient safety.
‘No one is responsible and no one is accountable’.
Ms Cauldfield said; “There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care and that conversely, an insufficient number of nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect for patients.”
Presenting the primary aim of the Bill as; “to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England, as currently no one is accountable for nursing levels in England and that is why we have such a high nursing vacancy rate.”
Before adding that the other aims of the Bill were ensuring the NHS has “a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers” alongside ensuring training and development for nurses throughout their career.
Cauldfield controversially voted against scrapping the pay cap for NHS workers in 2017.
Labour promises free home-care for the over 65s
People living with dementia currently face the highest costs for care.
The over-65s will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.
The Labour Party is promising free personal care in England for those over-65s who are most in need of it, so they will not have to pay for help with dressing, washing and meals.
Currently, only people with low levels of savings receive publicly-funded personal care and there is state help with home costs and residential assistance for those with assets below £23,250. However, people living with dementia face the highest costs for care.
They promise to introduce free personal care for all older people, providing help with daily tasks in their own homes and residential care; Free personal care will ensure people with dementia receive the same care as those with other conditions.
Labour claims the move will reduce the burden on unpaid carers and benefit the NHS by reducing delayed transfers of care from hospital and admissions to care homes and hospitals.
A million people are not getting the care they need.
At the Labour conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the move would be funded out of general taxation. Also, that cuts to care funding since 2010 had left a million people not getting the care they need and “87 people dying a day waiting for care”.
Subsidising the cost of basic tasks such as getting in and out of bed and going to the toilet will enable more people to continue to live independently in their homes, he said. ” I believe the right to dignity in retirement is a part of that right to health at any stage of life.”
Free personal care is something campaigners have long been calling for in England as Scotland has already introduced it and Wales and Northern Ireland each provide some level of universal entitlement.
In Wales the cost of home care is capped, while in Northern Ireland the over-75s get it for free; Based on Scottish figures, Labour said the move could save those currently self-funding their care almost £10,000 a year while 70,000 fewer families would be liable for “catastrophic” lifetime care costs in excess of £100,000.
Mr McDonnell also pledged to close the gap in social care funding and give local authorities extra support to provide care so services are not outsourced to private firms; The King’s Fund think tank has estimated that free personal care could cost £6bn a year in 2020-21, rising to £8bn by 2030.
The organisation said Labour’s announcement was a welcome step but “it is not the same thing as free social care, and some people would still be left facing catastrophic costs.”
Care services have been pushed to the brink.
Further support to the care workforce has been pledged to ensure that older people receive support from trained staff who have the time and skills needed to provide care; As part of the National Care Service, Labour has pledged to raise standards of care by ending the use of zero-hour contracts and ensuring that carers are paid a real living wage, including for travel time. Also, to end 15-minute care visits and improve access to training and development for care staff.
Barbara Keeley MP, Labour’s Shadow Social Care and Mental Health Minister, said: “Nine years of cuts to local council budgets have pushed care services to the brink. For years, the Tories have failed to bring in much-needed reform, leaving too many people and their families struggling to afford the care they need.
“Tackling the crisis in social care is a priority for Labour. Our plans for social care will address the immediate crisis in care, double the number of people receiving publicly-funded care, and stop people with dementia being treated unfairly by the care system.
“It is vital that social care is a universally-available public service which provides dignity, security and compassionate care. Our National Care Service will have these principles at its core.”
Mental health and learning disability services are deteriorating, says CQC
Growing pressure on services alongside chronic staffing issues risk creating a ‘perfect storm’ for patients.
Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk
It can be "dangerous" when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.
Healthcare staff have a ‘professional responsibility’ to get the flu vaccine
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