Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Stormont healthcare cuts to blame for tragic death of hospital patient

The tragic death of a 77 year old man who died alone and unnoticed waiting for treatment on a hospital trolley for 22 hours in Belfast’s main A&E ward in the Royal Hospital, is the result of savage healthcare cuts and the reduction of A&E services such as the closing down the ward in the Belfast city hospital last November.

While a full independent investigation must be held into the tragic circumstances of this death, we must not let our local politicians off the hook or the senior management in the Belfast Trust who are collectively implementing £823 million of vicious cuts in jobs and services throughout the health care system. This at a time when we have seen the approval for an 11% increase in wages for MLA’s. Ironically Pat McCartan, chairman of the Belfast Trust, who voted to close the City A&E was on the independent review panel which handed the MLA’s a £5000 increase in wages.

Last week it emerged that an 86 year old woman with a suspected stroke had waited more than 30 hours on a trolley for treatment. Latest figures show that 2,850 patients waited more than the four-hour government target at the Royal’s casualty unit in December 12 per cent more than the October figure. A total of 170 A&E patients faced delays in excess of 112 hours at the Royal-a staggering increase on the October figure of just 31.

We must also reject attempts from sections of media and our political class to blame our struggling underpaid and over-worked healthcare workers for the decisions being made and imposed from above in interests of capital before that of the patients and workers. We need to organise and fight for better healthcare services as part of building a mass movement from below upwards against these savage cuts because one death is one too many.