In previous posts I’ve discussed my opinions on the NHS and regular readers of my other blog (details of my ‘Localventure’ blog are below) will know I also post regularly about media coverage of medical issues. In particular, I loathe the lazy use of the NHS and supposed ‘problems’ therein to create eye catching headlines and soundbites. It is lazy and irresponsible journalism and every now and then I find myself in a position to directly refute the lazy assertion being made. Problems reported by Daybreak (ITV One this morning, 30th May 2013) within Accident and Emergency departments are a case in point.
One of the main stories on Daybreak this morning was the closure over the weekend of a number of A & E departments including the one in Liverpool city centre.
Their reporter, Cordelia Kretzchmar, was situated right outside the hospital/A & E entrance in Liverpool this morning explaining that only life threatening cases were being accepted on Bank Holiday Monday, otherwise the department was closed and that this was because the NHS is under pressure, people using the service who don’t need it etc. Which of course follows on directly from the thrust of a report published by the society of A & E consultants a couple of weeks ago, highlighted in the media at the time and as I recall commented both here and on in my Localventure blog (my comment being along the lines that there may be issues within the A & E departments but at a global level poor man management and over staffing within the NHS were in fact the problem).
This is complete and utter, uninformed nonsense or at worst deliberate mischief making and here is why :
If you’ve read my Twitter feed (#llocalventure) and recent posts on my business blog you’ll know I was in Liverpool over the whole Bank Holiday weekend with my family and commented on several occasions that due to the War in the Atlantic commemorative event Liverpool was jam packed with additional people – hundreds of thousands of them. I commented that I’d never in 42 years seen so many people in one place. Please feel free to follow me on Twitter for my exact thoughts over the weekend.
In addition it was very hot and sunny over the weekend (especially on Saturday and Sunday), although this was forecast in advance I suspect many people wandering around the city centre and Albert Docks area were caught out – my red neck is testament to the fact I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so warm myself !
So in addition to the usual demands on a busy city centre casualty department, there were also extra heart attacks, falls, accidents etc due to the sheer number of extra people in the city. There were also probably a massive number of dehydration and heat stroke cases too – many dozen I would imagine over the three days. This is not to even consider of course the massive volume of extra drink related injuries. Many of the people in the city will have stayed on during the three evenings over the weekend to eat drink and make merry. It is inevitable then that extra revellers eventually ended up in the A & E department. Again I can personally confirm that at 4.00pm on Saturday afternoon there was a 30 minute wait to eat in one of the Italian restaurants at the Albert Docks (we had an early show at the Echo Arena so there was also another 4,000 people in the city that evening at that show !) – the pubs and eateries in Liverpool One and the Docks area were all literally heaving for most of the day.
In short, the A & E department was looking at certainly double and probably treble or more the usual call on its resources as compared against a ‘usual’ weekend. It is impossible to staff an NHS unit in preparation for such an unusual number of inhabitants in a city and so the unit inevitable had to pass run off cases to other hospitals (as mentioned in the Daybreak report). This contingency was probably planned for weeks in advance. It is interesting to note that according to the Daybreak piece London A & E units were also affected similarly – again another massive tourist hotspot affected by additional numbers of people over a busy weekend so not a surprise and not ‘news’ in anyway.
This so called story is a ‘non-story’ that is in fact using a busy weekend to highlight non existent problems within the NHS.
It is a classic example of the media creating a lack of confidence in the ability of the NHS to cope and worrying people for no good reason. It is a fact that life threatening injuries were still being accepted at the Liverpool A & E unit and non emergencies were being sent to a hospital 20 minutes travel away. I think if I had a minor injury I’d have preferred to go to a quieter A & E unit rather than sit in the packed one in Liverpool anyway.
It is time that either the media properly checked their stories or stopped spreading silly negative rumours about the NHS as headline news.
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