MP’s plea as Bristol NHS staff are ‘exhausted and demoralised’ ahead of ‘toughest winter’

Thangam Debbonaire MP has written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid today (Friday, November 12) asking for help and support for Bristol’s NHS and care sectors.

The Labour MP for Bristol West wrote that the extra funding made available for the health service “will not solve the immediate problems” and asked for help dealing with what she says are “very difficult circumstances”.

She criticised the “stalling” vaccination program and “muddied” government health communications, highlighting that Bristol’s NHS staff are “exhausted” and “demoralised” with the situation.

READ MORE:Highest state of alert for health system triggered in Bristol region – Opel 4

The plea for help comes after health bosses in Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire raised the service alert level to Opel 4, the highest level, which means there is “increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised.”.

In her letter to the Health Secretary, Debbonaire thanked him and his department for the support given to Bristol’s NHS and social care services during the pandemic, but said: “Sadly, as I’m sure you are aware, funding, whilst very helpful, will not solve the immediate problems we face as the NHS and social care systems go into winter with the additional burdens that presents.”

Thangam Debbonaire is the Labour MP for Bristol West
Thangam Debbonaire is the Labour MP for Bristol West
(Image: Bristol Post)

The MP asked for help with what she said are three “critical areas”: public messaging around what service to contact and when, help with staffing shortages in the region, and help with social care to enable patients in hospital to be discharged as quickly as possible.

Last week, a quarter of the beds in Southmead Hospital were filled with people deemed medically fit for discharge, but who could not leave because they do not have help or an appropriate place to go.

Debbonaire also requested a meeting with the Health Secretary “to discuss the difficulties facing the health and social care sector in my region”.

New figures from South Western Ambulance Service Trust revealed that patients in the south west are facing the longest wait times for hospital transfers in the country.

The number of patients in hospital in Bristol with Covid-19 has more than doubled in the space of a month.

The letter from Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire to Health Secretary Sajid Javid
The letter from Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire to Health Secretary Sajid Javid
(Image: Thangam Debbonaire/Parliament)

In a statement to Bristol Live, Thangam Debbonaire said: “Our healthcare system in Bristol is under unprecedented pressure from Covid, flu, staff shortages and a huge backlog of life-saving treatments pushing every part of the health system. I’ve written today to the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid to ask him to do everything possible to ease the situation urgently.

“This includes fixing the stalling Covid vaccination programme, resolving the immediate crisis in social care and recruiting desperately-needed staff. The government must also get better at communicating public health messages. The Prime Minister and other ministers have often muddied the message on Covid, leaving the public confused and healthcare staff demoralised.

“With many aspects of life seem to be back to normal, it is easy to forget Covid is still killing hundreds and hospitalising many more every week.

“I know we are all grateful for the hard work and huge sacrifices made by Bristol’s NHS and care staff over the last couple of years. From my regular conversations with Bristol’s senior health officials, I hear staff are exhausted and working hard to cover staffing gaps, just as we go into one of the toughest winters in NHS history. They need our help and I’m calling on everyone to do their bit.

“There are things we can all do to take the pressure off the health care system. If you are unwell, please call or use online 111 if it is not life threatening. Look out for friends and neighbours who need extra support, as we all did throughout 2020. Be prepared to care for family members and others who are discharged from hospital and co-operate with the health and social care services to do this.

“And please get vaccinated against flu and Covid-19. If you are over 50, please book and get your Covid booster as soon as possible.”

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