8 December 2020
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: What are the priority actions required to assist Addenbrooke’s through the winter period?
Having worked at Addenbrooke’s hospital as a doctor for the last five years, I have seen how the pressure of busy winters spills over into Spring and Summer with bed crises and cancellation of surgery. Now, the longstanding underfunding of the NHS is added to the many costs of the coronavirus pandemic - the loss of space for social distancing, staff sickness due to poor physical and mental health, and ever rising patient waiting lists. Neither Addenbrooke’s nor any other trust had got elective treatment back to 100% of pre covid levels by November as “required” by the government.
What is really required is an honesty from our government about NHS underfunding – for a single example, we have 6.6 intensive care unit (ICU) beds per 100,000 people, compared to 21.8 (Austria) or 38.7 (Germany). Addenbrooke’s did a brilliant job of increasing ICU capacity as needed, at the cost of taking staff from other areas and cancelling elective work. We now have tens of thousands of patients who face long waits for outpatient treatment or elective surgery at Addenbrooke’s, of whom some have been waiting for longer than a year. We also need to recognise and reward the staff of the NHS, who have faced many months of physical and mental toll whilst caring for patients with Coronavirus, a real health risk to themselves and their family, and years of below inflation “pay rises” which mean that some rely on food banks.
Addenbrooke’s are rightly focussing on all the right things – rapid and efficient patient discharge, creating capacity for patients with coronavirus, improving patient flow as well as delivering as much elective care as possible. However, we as a nation need to have a conversation about properly funding the NHS, and that should start today.
Our response was written by Dr Hannah Charlotte Copley. Hannah is a local NHS medical doctor and Medical Research Council clinical research training fellow, as well as the Co-Convener of Cambridge Green Party.