Louise Irvine, General Practitioner

“We’ve cut the number of district nurses. We’ve lost all our community matrons. There are going to be cuts to the health visitor numbers in Lewisham. In Bromley they are going to abolish school nursing altogether. In Southwark they are making big cuts to health visiting.”

“For the first time ever we had to wait an hour for a patient which was a blue light call which we made from our health centre.  I’ve been a GP for over 20 years and we don’t make many blue light calls, but when we do for somebody with an acute breathing problem or chest pain, then the ambulance would come within 8 minutes.  Now this was a man with very severe abdominal pain.  He was deprioritised, they’ve split blue light into two grades now.  The top one is chest pain, the next one is less acute and because of that for some reason he ended up lying in agony in our health centre for an hour.  When the ambulance crew came they were really apologetic, they said they were so so busy there was no way they could get there in time for him.  That’s a big change.  I haven’t seen that before.”

“It is up to the people in the NHS and other people who are aware of what is going on to sound the warning siren – this is coming. Do we wait until the house topples over the cliff and then say “we were right, told you so” or do we say look at what is happening? Look at the rate it is eroding. I think that we say it’s happening now.”

“Staff are working flat out mistakes are already happening. I think care is already declining in quality. I think staff are overstretched – they make mistakes, there are delays in necessary care and they don’t have the time to have any interaction or talk, listen or explain. The emotional support patients who are sick need – that gets cut. I do think we are seeing damage happen now, and unless we talk about it we won’t be able to do anything about it. We need to be honest about what’s happening. Its not scaremongering – to warn about what the direction of travel is, its not scaremongering. Its responsible.”

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