I think our NHS Glos Hospitals Trust is due a big thank you. They coped, from all accounts I’ve had so far, brilliantly during the two days strike (including emergency car) by junior doctors this week. I’m very grateful to consultants, nurses and everyone else who dealt with A&E cases and other difficult situations so well.
At the same time the Trust has published its accounts for last year and the directors and managers deserve congratulations for finishing the year with a £900,000 surplus, rather than the dire losses many hospitals trusts have run up. Retiring Chief Executive Frank Harsent leaves the Trust in good state.
You cannot open a paper without reading the word ‘crisis’ next to the NHS, but what both the handling of the junior doctors strike and the year long management of the business of our two hospitals (GRH & Cheltenham) show is that we are very fortunate to have really dedicated staff on all fronts here in Glos.
Of course I get complaints from constituents about this and that, and sometimes serious mistakes do happen, but by and large we are very fortunate. We should never take that for granted: almost all the countries I’ve lived in have nothing remotely like our NHS.
Lastly the issue of the moment is of course the junior doctors strike and how it gets resolved. My constituents DO need an effective 7 day service, otherwise A&E waiting times will increase and weekend mortality rates will go on being higher than they should be. The only outstanding issue in the negotiations, according to the NHS, is whether Saturday pay should be at usual rates between 0900-1700. I hope this can be agreed soon, that doctors can focus on patients not strikes and that this can happen with salaries that are good for doctors but also affordable for the NHS and taxpayers.
This issue is one of money and I hope agreement is reached soon. Meanwhile the new contracts come into effect this summer and I simply do not believe the idea that all junior doctors, who by the way have each received about £300,000 of taxpayer funded training, are all going to emigrate to jobs in Australia unless they get special pay during Saturday daytime.
There are lots of doctors who are not happy about a very political element in the BMA, want to get on with treating patients, and do not see further strikes – including emergency care – as a solution. They are absolutely right, and I look forward to ALL junior doctors in the GRH back in full time work, with everyone else there, and continuing to deliver a high quality service to patients all over our county.
Looking ahead, my next Health Facebook will be about skills, and how we can increase them locally here in Glos so that we don’t have to import our nurses.