Local Myatt’s Fields councillors have voiced their support for local nurses during their current dispute with the government over pay, as well as calling for the government to invest properly in the NHS.
Cllr Annie Gallop raised the issue at a recent Lambeth Council meeting in January. Cllr Gallop asked:
Nurses at Lambeth hospitals have been forced by this Conservative government to go on strike because of years of underfunding of the NHS and poor pay which is being felt now more than ever in the cost of living crisis. How is the council supporting our local NHS trusts to ensure patients still get the support they need whilst nurses have to strike in order to secure the safety of themselves and their patients, and get the fair pay rise they deserve?
In response, the Council responded:
Thirteen years of Conservative mismanagement and their botched reorganisation of our NHS has created one of the worst crises we’ve seen in its 75-year history. Patients are often waiting hours for an ambulance; A&E departments are overflowing; and our dedicated nurses, doctors and hospital staff have been driven to take industrial action.
This represents an historic failure of this Government. Never in its history have nurses resorted to this action, and many junior doctors are likely to follow. The Government has failed to listen and failed to support NHS staff who are underpaid for the work they do, and patients who are in desperate need of an improved service. We’ve seen the longest waiting times in history, cancelled cancer screenings and operations, and we all know the feeling of the gruelling 8am call just to get a GP appointment. The Government used to clap for our NHS staff, now they plan – via their anti-strike legislation – to sack them. Their response is doing nothing for morale, and nothing for patients.
In Lambeth, our local NHS trust have worked hard to plan for this winter and we’re proud of the work they do in caring for our most vulnerable. Winter planning is a routine and longstanding exercise that takes place at a national, regional and at local level. The Lambeth and Southwark Urgent and Emergency Care Board have been coordinating our response to winter pressures given the interdependencies of local urgent care system. The board meets monthly and is jointly chaired by Andrew Eyres, Lambeth Strategic Director for Integrated Health and Care and Jo Furley, Director of Operations, Guy’s and St Thomas‘ NHS Foundation Trust.
The Board has responsibility for ensuring that all local partners work together to plan and sustain a safe and effective urgent care system that meets the needs of local patients and addresses key risks to the ongoing delivery of care. Preparation for 2022-23 winter began with a review of winter 2021-22, alongside key learning from partners that experienced the covid-19 pandemic. NHS England set out expected directions on specified services in August and followed up with further letter in October, particularly focusing on building greater resilience on protection including against increasing prevalence of seasonal flu. Partners have developed their winter plans based on this learning and the changing environment, including the potential impact the rising Cost of Living Crisis is having on residents’ ability to keep themselves healthy and well through the winter months.
Cllr Gallop will of course be aware that the Council is doing everything it can to support residents facing rising prices. In summer last year, we launched a comprehensive package of support including direct payments and practical resources to help shield residents gripped by the rising cost-of-living. Across South East London (SEL), the Integrated Care Board held a workshop planning session in September 2022 and a key focus for our whole service is managing and optimising flow of patients. Lambeth adult social care (ASC) contribute effectively to continuous flow models including to enable the timely discharge of patients (with both physical and mental health needs) to ensure they do not stay in hospital longer than is necessary. We are also working to increase urgent access opportunities across community based care, including increased primary care capacity.
We received additional funding targeted toward local council in December 2022 to help us increase our out-of-hospital discharge capacity. However, we understand that this can create additional pressure on local adult social care services and we are lobbying government for the support we need to manage discharges carefully. In Lambeth we have also resourced additional GP capacity at St Thomas’ to help with ED attenders. We have been linking our planning for strikes with our overall system management to enable us to maintain access to treatment for patients needing urgent and emergency during periods of industrial action.
A comprehensive report was taken to the Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny SubCommittee on 29 November (paper can be found here Agenda for Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee on Tuesday 29 November 2022, 7.00 pm | Lambeth Council) and an update note will be taken to the next Sub-Committee meeting on 28 February 2023. Even with this planning, we are acutely aware that with rising waiting times and without the resources we need from Government, our NHS will continue to experience unprecedented strain. After 13 years, the longer the Tories are in power, the longer patients will wait. It’s time for a Labour government and a fresh start for our country.
At the same meeting, Cllr Gadsby asked a further question about traffic issues on Cranmer Road.