Stop blaming GPs, Mr Hunt - it is ministers who must act to improve elderly care
Cuts to social care have had a devastating impact on elderly patients and ramped up pressure on NHS services, argues Dr David Wrigley
The latest outrageous slur on our profession has been played out on the front page of Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph: ‘Give elderly proper care, GPs told’. For Mr Hunt to say some A&E doctors know local elderly patients better than GPs in the area takes the attack on our profession to a new low.
This is a man who blames everyone else for problems in the NHS – yet doesn’t seem to have the insight to realise many of the problems emanate from his own Whitehall office.
Cuts to social care funding
GPs will read Mr Hunt’s article with incredulity and wonder how he has the gall to say such a thing. Every day, every night, every weekend our profession goes the extra mile to care for our patients, many of whom are frail and elderly and struggle in today’s society.
But the cuts to the social care budget have been vicious, and have run into hundreds of millions of pounds in recent years. Social care is vital to the nation’s elderly population and provides a lifeline to many who rely on carers, community services and respite care just to get by. Yet local councils have had no option but to cut services when centrally-funded government grants have been slashed.
Some have told me, ‘the country is bust, we can’t afford free health and social care anymore’. But this is just not true, and mimics the coalition’s own mantra in order to impose its own ‘shock doctrine’ on an unsuspecting NHS and public.
NHS management and CCGs have been duped by the government. Asked to make savings (cuts) of £20bn from the NHS budget, they duly obliged because they believed the Department of Health when it said those savings would be reinvested in patient care.
But these savings (cuts) have not, as promised by our politicians, been reinvested in patients. The hard-earned NHS ‘surplus’ has not been spent on more nurses, more carers or extra resources for general practice – it has been siphoned off by the politicians and sent to the Treasury for them to do with it as they see fit.
Such mendacity by the politicians makes those who are the weak and vulnerable in our society suffer the most. The elderly can’t speak out, they struggle to get by and they are just too weak to fight the system.
For Mr Hunt to use the elderly as a political pawn makes me sick to my stomach.
Time to claim back the ‘surplus’
It is time we realised what is going on in our country and time for us to speak out and tell our politicians we do not accept what they are doing. It is a doctor’s duty to speak out on behalf of our patients when Government policies are so harmful to the nation.
Hunt should use the NHS surplus to fund decent social care for the elderly. He should stop castigating GPs when they are working their socks off to prop up an NHS on the verge of destruction.
Can someone please buy Mr Hunt a mirror? He needs to take a long hard look into one in order to see who is behind the desperate state of the NHS.
Colleagues: the Government’s misguided policies have had a catastrophic impact on both health and social care services. Speak out, speak up and campaign against these immoral changes to the NHS before it is too late.
Dr David Wrigley is a member of the GPC and a GP in Lancashire. You can follow him on Twitter @davidgwrigley.