Archive

Medical Professionals

OK Theresa and Jeremy and Tim and Nicola and Leanne and all the other pavement walking, door knocking, Manifesto-pledging Parliamentary candidates currently pounding our Nations’ streets, I have some questions for you. And, as a disabled person, I’m pretty sure there are many others from my community who have questions for you too. Why are you not speaking to us? Don’t we count? Don’t our votes matter to you? I hope not.

What I want to know, exactly, is what the political big-wigs and hard-hitters and movers and shakers in this country can offer to us? What promises can you give to all of us. What promises or pledges will you make to us? According to all the statistics I have been able to find, there are around 12-13 million disabled people in this country, what are you going to do to our lives any better for us? Are you totally disregarding the collective power and magnitude of disabled people’s votes and the votes of our families and friends? I hope not. Do you really think you can continue to either demonise us or watch others doing the demonising without us noticing? I hope not. Are you going to continue putting our needs to the back of the queue? I hope not. Are you going to go on ignoring us? I hope not.

Well, here are my questions at any rate.

We are told that Social care in this country is in crisis. That there is not enough money to pay home-carers and unpaid carers a decent wage or benefit that reflects what they do to support and enable us. What are you going to do about it? We are the net users of that care, what are you planning on doing to alleviate the situation and ensure that we get the care we want and need to allow us to live our lives to the full?

What are you going to do?

Many of us need to use aids and adaptations in our daily lives such as hoists and wheelchairs and hearing aids and aids for people with visual impairments. What are you going to do so that we can all get the best equipment we need to live without having to fight for every nut, bolt, screw, , plug, cable and electronic component?

What are you going to do?

Then there is the constant battle to find a home, a place to live which can cater for our access needs and accommodate us properly and in comfort. It’s often one of the greatest obstacles we face but one where we appear to get little or no help in getting what we need. What are you going to do to ensure that there are houses and flats and bungalows available which allow us to live in the community with our families, alongside our friends and neighbours without having to fight for funding for alterations and adaptations?

What are you going to do?

How are you proposing that your party will ensure that disabled children and young people can receive the education they need and deserve alongside their non-disabled compatriots? How are you going to try to ensure that they can all study together and not be segregated due to an impairment meaning the school or college is physically inaccessible for all?

What are you going to do?

Everyone falls sick at some point in their lifetime, what are you going to do to ensure that everyone can access the healthcare we all need and not find it being rationed according to how much we need it and how expensive it is? How are you going to give us access to the doctors and specialists and the nursing professionals we need in our hospitals? Are you going to ensure that these professionals receive salaries that reflect their skills and dedication? Are you going to make sure that they have working conditions such as hours and breaks that allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability and not want to leave?

What are you going to do.

Then there the employment thing. We are told that everyone must work and get a job. What are you going to do to ensure that disabled people who can work get the support they need to do so safely and successfully and that those that can’t work due to their impairments are not demonised and punished for daring to be sick and disabled. Many of us would like to have the opportunity to do something, however small, what are you going to do to help us? How are you going to promote disability in the workplace so that those of us who can work and want to work get the support we need and the opportunity to do so?

What are you going to do?

Talk to us and tell us how you are going to help and support us. Why should we vote for you and your party as opposed to the other parties and their candidates? What are you going to do that will make a difference for us? Don’t write off 13 million potential voters. Please talk to us and tell us what you’re going to do to help us. If you want my vote give me a reason to put my cross next to your name on the ballot paper. What difference are you going to make to my life? Why should I vote for you, please tell me.

What are you going to do?

Advertisements

Oh goody!

Such fun!

The amazingly incompetent DWP strikes again!

Brief bit of background info – I am currently in the process of being transferred from the Disability Living Allowance I have been receiving since 1998 onto the new Personal Independence Payment. Around six weeks ago a kind and long-suffering friend helped me complete the frighteningly lengthy claim form, in excruciating detail, which I then returned, complete with copies of my Social Services and District Nurses Care Plans as evidence that I was not tell lies or over-egging the situation and my needs.

Well, yesterday I received a letter saying they were coming to see me to do a home visit and check that I really am as disabled as I said that I am and that I am really in need the help I say that I do.

Great!

No real problem with a personal visit and assessment except for the fact that it will be a colossal waste of both their, and my time.

First of all the appointment is for 9am-11am. Well, that’s not convenient. My carers come at 9.30am to wake me up, wash me down, attend to all my personal care needs, get me ready for the day and provide me with my breakfast. The assessor will just have to wait in the kitchen whilst I get my full body wash, have my catheter bag emptied and my incontinence pad changed. I’m not having them in my room to watch any of that.    

Secondly, my carers are here for around an hour for my morning visit, and can’t change their times as the have several other clients to see, so the assessor really will have to wait in the kitchen until they have finished everything they have to do.

Thirdly, in order to ensure that the assessors don’t, themselves, lie in their report ,about what they ask me and what I say to them (there are too many reports of this happening with other disabled people for me to take the risk), I will be recording the whole thing. The DWP allow this, if you inform them in advance that this is what will be happening, but it needs to be recorded on a double cassette or CD recorder so that I can keep one one copy and that they can take the other with them. No digital recording on a computer, tablet or laptop, no dictaphones, nothing modern, just an old fashioned cassette or cd recorder. Now, how many people still have one of those?

Not me.

Why am I going to have to go through this indignity yet again anyway? I fully understand the need to ensure that Welfare Benefits are going to the people that are actually entitled to them and need them. But really. Can’t the people at ATOS Healthcare read? I sent copies of my Care Plans for a reason – as proof that I am genuinely disabled. Are my Social Worker and my District Nurses really going to spend time detailing all the help I need if I didn’t actually need it? Is my Local Authority really going to be spending an inordinate amount for carers to come in to do everything for me on a daily basis or no reason? Somehow, I don’t think so.

The pen-pushing jobs-worths in the DWP need to learn to read and start employing some common sense, if, of course, they know what common-sense is. Disabled people, with genuine, documentary evidence of their impairments and the help they need just to exist, should not be hounded, day after day, to prove every little thing, in front of witnesses. It’s not right and it should not be happening. I am an emotionally strong woman but, even I am beginning to feel dispirited and depressed by the constant badgering. For other people all this disbelief and hounding and assessing and justifying themselves can be, and often is, the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

Employ some sense DWP, I beg you. If you ask us to send you medical evidence which proves our claims when we make them, do us the courtesy of actually reading the evidence we send you. You are looking for fraudulent claims so you can stop spending the taxpayer’s money on claims made by people who are not entitled to Welfare Benefits, so stop wasting our money going after people who really should and need to be getting that help and can prove it. What is this country coming to?

As I’ve said before, only this week, would you please just leave me alone. I, and so many other disabled people, have had enough. Learn to read and start checking the evidence you ask us to provide. Doctors and Consultants, social workers, District Nurses, Medical Professionals, don’t write these reports for their own amusement, they write them for a reason. Do them, and us, the courtesy of reading what these reports say and then start going after the reall fraudsters instead of us.

We’ve had enough.    

Anyone who has ever received any treatment whatsoever, in hospital, must surely be grateful for and appreciative of the work of all the wonderful junior doctors we have working in the NHS. A service that is free at the point of use and whose  medical staff are professional and dedicated.

For most of us, our first meeting with doctors and nurses would have been before we were even born when our mothers would have received ante-natal treatment and our final meeting will be close to, and probably even at, the very moment of our deaths. In between these two events the vast majority of us are likely to see the inside of a hospital more than once. And every time it will, almost certainly, be a junior doctor who treats us. The work these people do for us is immeasurable and we should all be so thankful for the men and women who dedicate their working lives to looking after the health of the entire nation. No task is too small, no task is too difficult, they will do their best to help every single one of us from the moment we go to a hospital for treatment until, hopefully, we are ready to leave, significantly better if not cured. And these are the people who are about to have a new contract forced upon them. A contract which will be detrimental to the entire profession. A contract that is making so many consider resigning and moving to work abroad where doctors are properly appreciated and valued.

As a disabled person I have had call to use the services of my local hospital on many occasions, maybe more than average, and on each of those occasions I have received the most wonderful care and compassion from all the doctors I have seen. As a parent I have had even more reason to see the work of our junior doctors first hand and, never once, in more than fifty years, have I ever heard any of them complain or say they can’t or refuse to help. As far as I am concerned they are all wonderful people who do their best from the second I first meet them until the second I say goodbye. When I had my first child they were admited to the special care baby unit at birth and treated there for a week before I was able to take them home. They were treated by junior doctors. When my younger daughter had some major asthma attcksas as a small child it was the junior doctors in my local hospital who treated her so she could come home later, fit and well. When my ex-partner had a motorcycle accident and was taken to Accident and Emergency he was treated and his life saved by junior doctors both there and on the ward. When my elderly father was in a nasty accident and broke his neck it was junior doctors who worked tirelessly to save his life and his mobility. Last year I spent several weeks as an in-patient and every day I saw the dedication displayed by these men and women as they worked tirelessly to help and treat every one of us on the ward. I saw the way they would stop and smile and talk to every patient, even the ones they weren’t about to treat themselves. I heard the abuse that some of them were subjected to by some very ill people and people in tremendous pain who, almost certainly, would not have behaved the way they did or said the things they said if they hadn’t been so ill. Not once did these professionals bat an eyelid or say anything back, they just went on doing their best for us all. They were polite and dedicated at all times, however tired they may have been, however many hours they may have just worked, however many more hours they still had to work before they got their next break. They were amazing.  

This is why I will continue to support the industrial action our junior doctors are being forced to take, I know they wouldn’t be doing so if they didn’t feel they had no other option. Junior doctors are the lifeblood of our National Health Service and their work should be valued and applauded by all of us who have ever had to use hospital service and that, I suspect, is most of us.  

To all the Junior doctors working in the United Kingdom, from one of your many patients, thank you, I would not be alive without you.

So – Lord Carter has said in a report published today that hospitals need to find a solution to ‘bed blocking’. Now, that’s an easy one. I know what needs to happen. Four words – sort out social care! If the Government was prepared to spend some money on doing this rather than cutting services left, right and centre, otherwise healthy people could be discharged safely from hospital as soon as they are better, freeing up their beds!

Sorted.

How do I know this? Because I was bed-blocker myself. Last winter I became ill. Very ill. I had to be taken into hospital for, what proved to be, a lengthy stay due to having developed a seriously infected pressure sore. Now, I am more than prepared to acknowledge that, initially, hospital was the best place for me. I need IV antibiotics and thrice daily dressing changes and specialist treatment and stuff like that, but I was, to all intents and purposes, ready for discharge three or four weeks before it actually happened. Sure the wound from the sore was still there but the infection had been dealt with. The PIC line, the way the medics were getting the IV antibiotics into me was removed and I was given tablets to take instead. I was ready to go. Well, I say I was ready to go but that didn’t actually happen. Not then, anyway. I continued to lie in my hospital bed in the ward, for several weeks, after I had been told I could go home.

I became a bed-blocker.
The thing that stopped me and delayed my discharge was trying to organise a home-care package for me. I needed two things, medical attention to continue with changing the dressings and ensuring the infection didn’t come back and a care package so I could have people coming into my home every day to help wash, feed and do some cleaning for me. Medical care was easy. District nurses and my GP could deal with that. It was the home-care package that was the sticking point. It was only after I had made many several tearful phone calls to a contact I have on my local council that Social Services got their act together and a package was agreed so I could leave. Social Workers did their best but found it nigh on impossible to sort out an agency to provide the carers I needed. Three visits, with two carers each time, every day. A grand total of 31.5 hours each week.

As far as I can make out the major issue was the amount of money carers are paid. Considering the things they are expected to do their rate of pay is derisory, under ten pounds per hour. That’s all. They get no money to cover the time they spend travelling between jobs, under ten pounds per hour for the time they spend with an actual client. Most of the ladies that come to me have several clients they are paid to see but they get nothing for the travel time between us all. This can amount to two or three hours travelling time every day but they get nothing for it. And, there should be sufficient money in the budget to allow carers to spend the necessary time they need with clients as well. Fifteen minute visits need to end now. How can anyone be expected to care for someone properly in just fifteen minutes? Short-cuts will happen and people with suffer.  

The Government really does need to take a long, hard look at social care in this country. Social Services should have sufficient funds to be able to pay carers a reasonable sum for what they do. Carers should be recompensed for the time they have to spend travelling if they are visiting several people every day. Salary levels should be increased so that more people can be attracted into, what can often be, a very difficult role. If we are entrusting the care of our older and disabled citizens to an under-funded service. What can we expect apart from people left languishing in over-stretched hospital wards for far longer than is needed. Bed blocking is a problem that is only likely to increase as our population ages. Until there is enough funding for proper social care, we can expect more and more otherwise healthy people to be left in our hospitals far longer than is needed. There may currently be a cash-crisis but, unless our Government starts looking for a longer term solution and increases funding for social care improvements, things are only likely to get worse. People who have no need of a hospital bed will be left on our wards for weeks whilst people who are in urgent need of treatment will have nowhere to go.

Listen to the professionals who know what they are talking about. Stop the penny-pinching and start investing. Bed blocking shouldn’t be allowed to happen any longer. Act now before it’s too late and a fixable problem becomes an insurmountable crisis. Fund social care properly and stop expecting home care professionals to work for nothing.

OK, so today is the day that junior doctors, all over the country, are on strike for better terms and conditions and I support them all the way.

The TV news and social media are full of reports and pictures from the picket lines. Doctors with stethoscopes around their necks and placards, not syringes, in their hands. Doctors, the beating heart of our beloved National Health Service, who are not where they should be. Doctors, who are not tending their patients in crowded wards. Doctors who are not assisting surgeons with routine surgery in the operating theatre. Doctors who are not examining frightened people attending clinics and consultations which could save their lives. No, instead these consummate professionals are standing outside their hospitals, in the cold and wind and rain, striking over proposed changes to their terms and conditions and I support them all the way.

I am not a medic or a union expert or a politician in the Department of Health but, like most people in this country, just an ordinary person who has used the NHS and who has seen these junior doctors at work. I don’t pretend to understand exactly what it’s all about, far from it, but I don’t think I am unusual in this.

As far as I can see what has happened is that the government, in it’s infinite wisdom, wants to make changes to pay and working hours for junior doctors and that this will not benefit anyone except the government. Junior doctors are going to be working more unsocial hours and will be receiving less pay for doing it. The government are saying that they are doing this so that the NHS is a seven day per week service and so patients get something better that they have at the moment. But I, for one, can’t see what they are talking about. The NHS as far as I am concerned is already a seven day service. Hospitals aren’t a 9-5 thing, they don’t close at the weekend, they are open all the time. Sure, some of the clinics and specialist services are closed at weekends but the core of the NHS, the 24 hour care service we all know and rely upon is open. Accident and Emergency never closes. Patients aren’t sent home at the weekend and told to return to the ward on Monday. Desperately ill people are still taken in, cared for and helped to heal.

As someone who spent several weeks in hospital last year, with a serious condition, I have seen these junior doctors at work, first hand. I have seen them doing ward rounds before breakfast. I have seen them administering analgesic relief when a patient is crying in pain at 2 or 3 in the morning. I have been taken to theatre for surgery both early and late in the day and treated with compassion and concern every step of the way. I have seen junior doctors, exhausted after being on call for 24 hours working with professionalism and humanity for all at every bedside. Yes, I have seen these junior doctors at work and I have the utmost respect for them all.

Sure, there have been times when I would have liked to have been able to have a clinic appointment in the evening or at the weekend so my week was not disrupted but things can’t always be done to my convenience. Consultants and their juniors deserve a home life just as much as everyone else. What I need is a doctor who is not too tired to work. What I need is a service that is responsive and professional. What I need is and NHS that free at the point of use. What I want is doctor who is able have some time to themselves to unwind and relax, not someone who is too exhausted to work. What I want is a doctor who can spend some time at home with their family, just the same as everyone else. What I want are for doctors to receive a salary which recognises and reflects their dedication and skills. What I want are for doctors to know how much we, their patients, respect them, their vocation and their dedication.

So today is the day the junior doctors all over the country are on strike for better terms and conditions and I support them all the way.

Exactly what are David Cameron, George Osborne and the Conservatives up to? What are they trying to do to this country? I’m not entirely sure but, whatever it is, I really don’t like it very much.

There are three things in particular that I have spotted in the past week that are giving me cause for concern. Three things that should be giving us all cause for concern. Three things concerning National Security, Education and the NHS.

National Security first. I don’t pretend to be an expert or anything, just a middle-aged woman with too much time on her hands to think and ponder the state of the world but, and it’s a big but, I really don’t understand the sanity of cutting police numbers when, as a nation, we appear to be at a heightened risk of attack from Daesh terrorists. Surely we need to keep police numbers, at the very least, at their current levels? Surely funding for the police should remain at its current level until things internationally calm down? Surely we need more police on the streets picking up local intelligence about what is going on, not less. Cutting police numbers at this time just doesn’t feel right. It does not make sense to me.

The second thing that is concerning me is David Cameron’s plans for Teaching Assistants. He wants to stop their entitlement to holiday pay during school holidays. Nine weeks worth of annual salary amounting to between one and half and three thousand pounds. Each. That strikes me as very unfair. Teaching Assistants are a vital part of the education system in the country. Teachers nationwide rely on the help these assistants give and the work they do in the classroom every single day. Surely, if we want the best education possible for our children we need to support our teachers as best we can. Surely this means paying our teaching assistants properly and ensuring that they get the same holiday entitlement as other workers and that their terms and conditions are fair. Cutting holiday entitlement for teaching assistants just does not feel right. It does not make sense to me.             

Then there is the NHS. Where do I start? There is so much that does not seem right about what the Government is doing there. We have junior doctors voting to go on strike for the first time ever because of adverse changes to their contracts and terms and conditions. Hospitals and trusts are being limited in how much they can spend on agency staff whilst the Government is actively discouraging young people from training as nurses by cutting bursaries to nursing students. Surely, if we want to save money on the use of agency staff in the long term, we need to encourage young people to enter the profession. Surely the best way of doing this is to give them access to decent bursaries whilst they are students if they need them. Surely we need to ensure that our junior doctors are not expected to work ridiculous numbers of hours without a break and that they receive a decent salary for this work whilst they are training. These student doctors and nurses are the future of healthcare in this country. Surely we should be helping them become the best in the world, not driving them away with penny-pinching policies. Cutting the pay, conditions and student funding for medical professionals just does not feel right. It doesn’t make sense to me.  

I would like to see some common sense being used by the Government. I know that we, as a country, don’t have money we can just throw around willy nilly. I know savings have to be made somewhere and that we are living in a time of austerity but there must be another way. Why not look at the individual tax dodgers? Why not look at the big businesses and corporations that are not paying their way? Why not chase the bankers and the financiers with their fat-cat bonuses instead of trying to squeeze even more savings from overstretched and underfunded national services. I would like to see the  police force having sufficient money to be able to be able to perform their function properly and keep our towns and cities safe. I would like to see our educators and their assistants celebrated for what they do, not penalised by cuts to their terms and conditions. I would like to see our medical professionals being able to do the work they are trained to do, looking after our sick and ill countrymen and women unhindered by exhaustion, lack of pay and lack of financing when they are students.

Now that would feel right. That would make sense to me.