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Wales: chronic NHS underfunding exposed
Joe Fathallah, Cardiff East Socialist Party
The terrible conditions faced by patients and staff at the A&E at the University Hospital of Wales, the biggest in Wales, have been exposed.
Staff have been reduced to tears due to the lack of time and resources available to properly care for patients. Some patients wait over 20 hours in the assessment unit.
The waiting facilities are often cramped and uncomfortable. There's no privacy in the lounge. Food and water are regularly unavailable.
Heathcare Inspectorate Wales scrutinised the hospital in March. Their report made clear that "during the course of our inspection, we saw many examples of staff being kind and compassionate to patients. We saw staff treating patients with respect, courtesy and politeness."
Clearly, this is an issue of underfunding and lack of resources.
This is Cardiff 's only A&E, with a population of around 350,000. But with large parts of the south Wales valleys also reliant on the hospital as their closest A&E, 1,080 beds must provide for over half a million people.
According to 2015 OECD figures, the UK has around 2.6 hospital beds per 1,000 people. Germany has over eight, and Japan over 13!
But the University Hospital of Wales hasn't always been this strained. The A&E at Cardiff Royal Infirmary (CRI) closed in 1999 - a short-sighted step which has contributed to the current crisis.
The Socialist Party played a leading role in the Crisis campaign that stopped the complete closure of Cardiff Royal Infirmary. Huge numbers were mobilised in its defence of the CRI. A petition with over 100,000 signatures went to the Welsh Assembly.
Although some healthcare facilities are still provided, including GP surgeries and a sexual health clinic, the loss of beds has contributed to the terrible crisis.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which manages both hospitals, has agreed an action plan to ad- dress some of the report's findings. But this means that the Welsh Assembly must fully fund our NHS to provide the care we need.
Socialist Party Wales says:
- Re-open the A&E unit at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary to relieve the pressure on University Hospital of Wales
- End the staff shortages - for the recruitment of hundreds of new doctors and other health professionals
- Increase the number of A&E doctors to reduce stress and encourage recruitment
- Reverse all privatisation plans in Wales, including hospital pharmacies
- Welsh government must reverse all funding cuts to the NHS
- It should launch a mass campaign alongside health boards, NHS unions and patients to demand adequate funding for the Welsh NHS from the Westminster government
5 Aug NHS pay: 15% for all now
13 Sep NSSN lobby of TUC
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