NHS Winter Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 10th January 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:39 pm, 10th January 2018

I am pleased to follow Simon Hoare because I, too, want to touch on transitional healthcare.

Before I do so, I want to acknowledge the incredible, amazing, professional care that is provided across our healthcare service. We all agree that the love and care that is there is incredible. However, there are clear challenges, and we note those too. We have heard so much about them in the evidence provided today. This is not just about the long hours and the complex challenges that are placed at the door of health professionals. It is about the stress of not having the additional conversation that you need to have, the stress of not being able to treat somebody as a whole person but only being able to focus on the acute situation before you, and the stress of trying to keep somebody alive as their respiratory condition is deteriorating but you cannot get the doctor down because you know they are caring for someone in an even more acute situation. I know; I have been there. I have worked in acute medicine for 20 years, and I know very well what has happened over those 20 years. I agree with hon. Friends who hark back to the 1990s, when, as today, our NHS was in a terrible state. It did improve when Labour put the investment into the NHS, and we cannot deny that finance is at the heart of what is happening.

Bed occupancy is an issue for my local trust, which has faced a real crisis in acute care over this winter. I commend it for all it has tried to do to avert the situation, but we have had multiple days of 100% capacity in our acute medical facilities. The council has closed care homes. The trust has closed a transitional care unit. We have an empty hospital adjacent to our acute hospital, sitting on land that NHS Property Services is going to flog off as opposed to seeing how it can invest in better care for the people of my community. We need to really invest in the facilities that we need for the future, particularly around transitional care. We should have a complete review of what is needed with regard to the NHS estate.

The influenza outbreak this winter has had a more serious impact in York than across the rest of Yorkshire and has been one of the worst in the country. That has had a real impact on staff as well as the acuity and volume of patients coming through the door. On top of that, we have had norovirus and DNV—diarrhoea and vomiting. This is all putting challenges into the system.

We absolutely must have a coherent public health strategy as we move forward. We know that there is social inequality in who gets access to inoculations. We also need to make sure that we lay out a proper strategy. That is not happening. The fact that public health is separated off from acute health is a barrier. We need to draw them together to make sure that we have a proper public health workforce in the community.

I want to touch on funding. Our trust is in the capped expenditure process. I am still waiting for a meeting with the Minister to discuss the impact of that. The trust does not have the flexibility and the resources that it needs, and that is having a serious impact on the health crisis we are seeing in York. We need to move the situation forward to make sure that we have the resources where we need them.

At the moment, the NHS is really sick. When patients are sick, they need solutions. I trust that we will start hearing solutions from the Government.