Winter Crisis Day of Action | Nationwide | Saturday 15 February 2020

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Winter Crisis Day of Action

Despite the relative media quiet this is currently the worst winter crisis on record. That’s why Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together have called the Winter Crisis Day of Action on Saturday 15 February all around the country. Join the NHS Campaigns and our supporters to demand an end the crisis, adequate funding for the NHS, an end to pay freezes and an end to privatisation.

We’re calling on our local groups and supporters, whether experienced campaigners or new to NHS campaigning, to call a local event or action in your community right around the country. Pick a location that resonates with your local issues and campaigning goals, a local hospital, or GP services currently under threat for example, or your local MP’s constituency offices, the local Town Hall or if your Town Centre. Call a rally and if you think you can build enough engagement and support in your area, why not consider a rally and march through the town?

This is the worse winter crisis on record and the national team are already working on materials, including leaflets, placards and more that you can hold or give out to the public to explain why you’re there which we’ll sharing very soon. Whether you’re generating your own content or using materials we can send to you, it’s essential we have this important conversation with the public about the lies and false promises told them by this Conservative Government around the NHS.

Get yourselves a megaphone or small sound system and make some noise! We want there to be space for local people to have their say; can members of your local campaign speak; can you invite friends and allies of other local campaigns or political parties and trade unions with similar views on the NHS to attend and speak too? Is your local MP friendly to your campaign, or do they have a bad record on the NHS? If the former, why not invite them along and ask them to speak too? If the latter, why not hold a protest at their offices?

It’s often a good idea to have some music too. Why not chose a playlist that will keep the mood political and energetic but also friendly, fun and approachable? There are sometimes local choirs that love to be asked to get involved with this kind of activity. Is there an NHS Choir or Socialist Choir near you that you can reach out to?

If you want some NHS staff to speak you can try reaching out to a local trade union, try Unite, Unison, GMB, the BMA, RCN or United Voices of the World. They might be able to hook you up with a local speaker and they’re always good people to inform about your event and see if they’re willing to help publicise or get involved. Doing events like these are always also about building links in the area where you’re based. For NHS staff contacts you can also get in touch with us in the office by emailing campaigns@keepournhspublic.com.

There are also all sorts of other campaigns that you might want to try and work with on this, at the very least let them your plans. Groups like, The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Momentum, Local Labour or Green Party activists, Docs Not Cops, Psychologists for Social Change, Stand up to Racism, We Own It and so on, may be a great source of support and resources.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re doing all you can to publicise it and make it a success. Reach out to local press and media, often local radio stations are very interested in this kind of thing, perhaps try and get on the local radio and explain why you’re calling the event about the winter crisis in your area. If you want any support, please get in touch with us. Many of you will have done this kind of activism many times before, but not all of you will and we hope especially for those of you getting started this will be of help.

As soon as you have an event organised, tell us in the national office by emailing nationaladmin@keepournhspublic.com with the time and location so we can put it on our website and help publicise it too.

Lastly on the day don’t forget to write a brief report of how the event went, please take photos and videos and send them in. It’s all really powerful in encouraging activists and spreading the word about this urgent issue.

Look out for more information on messaging and materials coming soon. In the meantime, please read the powerful article from a front-line A&E nurse below.

Here A&E Nurse, Mark Boothroyd explains why it’s vital we make the day of action a success:

As winter takes hold, A&E staff around the country are bracing for the worst time of their lives. Across the country A&E departments are recording their worst statistics ever. No A&E department in the country has met its 4-hour wait target. Even the best A&Es in the country struggle to see more than 85% of their patients within this time.

Other statistics tell an even bleaker picture. In September almost 60,000 patients waited in A&E over 12 hours before being admitted to a hospital bed. In comparison, in September 2010 the figure for those waiting over 12 hours was only 5000. Lack of beds in A&E leave patients waiting in ambulances for hours, and hospital staff having to begin triaging and treating them outside the hospital. Ambulances are stuck waiting at hospitals, and can’t leave to respond to other emergencies.

These figures only capture a tiny aspect of what is happening to patients and staff. Behind every wait is a human story of anxiety, suffering, increased risk for the patient and stress for clinical staff.

Whether its a patient with chest pain who can’t be put on cardiac monitoring because all the cubicles with a monitors are full, a delay in administering analgesia to a patient in pain, or the patient with sepsis who deteriorates as their treatment is delayed for hours while they wait to be triaged, untold injury is done to patients due to lack of space and staff in A&E.

The yearly winter crisis isn’t down to the weather. It is a consequence of ten years of underinvestment in the NHS and social care. NHS England has closed 20% of A&E capacity since 2010, while 17,000 hospital beds have been cut over the same time, leaving the NHS only 127,225 beds to serve the population of 68 million. Social care spending has been cut, meaning patients can’t get the packages of care needed for discharge, and many suffer readmission because the level of care they need isn’t funded. Patients needing psychiatric admission have to wait days in medical beds to be admitted to a psychiatric bed, and many have to be sent hundreds of miles away as there are no beds in their area.

This traps patients in hospital beds, and prevents new patients being admitted from A&E, blocking up the service, making A&Es unsafe for patients and leading to the dangerous waits and unnecessary suffering across the NHS.

Some hospitals are now forced to redeploy nurses to care for patients in corridors. Overcrowding forces some ward staff to spend part of shift looking after patients without a bed as reported in the Guardian,

Hospitals are having to redeploy nurses from wards to look after queues of patients in corridors, in a growing trend that has raised concerns about patient safety. Many hospitals have become so overcrowded that they are being forced to tell nurses to spend part of their shift working as “corridor nurses” to look after patients who are waiting for a bed. Nurses, doctors and hospital bosses have all voiced unease about the practice, which has risen sharply in recent weeks as the NHS has struggled to cope with the extra pressures of winter.

The government knows full well the scale of the crisis, NHS England has the figures for every A&E department and hospital, they can easily identify those needing more investment and support, but there is no political will from the government to solve the crisis. Money could be allocated to reopen acute and psychiatric beds, and recruit staff, and council social care budgets could be expanded, but the government remains reluctant to invest, despite the suffering ten years of austerity has caused.

The root cause of this is that the Conservative government is opposed to the idea of planning healthcare based on human need, and allocating resources accordingly. The NHS has all the data it needs to know where and how to invest money to avert the winter crises, but this would require a government willing to do that. Instead, the Conservatives allow NHS trusts to muddle through on their own, with inadequate resources, while patients and staff pay the price for their inaction.

Without urgent action, A&Es across the country will remain overburdened and unsafe for patients. NHS workers need to take action to force the government to give us the resources we need for our patients.

That's why Keep Our NHS Public and others have called a Winter Crisis Day of Action on Saturday 15 February, in order bring attention to the extent of the crisis, but also lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of this Conservative Government.

You can get in touch at campaigns@keepournhspublic.com to get involved or check out the FACEBOOK EVENT HERE


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