Jonathan Smith, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Tatton, attended a public meeting of the East Cheshire NHS Trust Board this week. As a former NHS Chief Executive himself, Jonathan said that he wanted to really listen and learn, from those with direct responsibility for services, about the major challenges they face: “Whilst I have long experience as a very senior manager and leader in both health and social care, I need to understand the particular issues faced by this local Trust, so that they inform my campaign priorities, and any statements that I make.”
He went on to report that the meeting had left him hugely impressed by the dedication of all those working in the service, by their remarkable achievements in the quality of patient care, and by the collective determination of the Trust’s leadership to strive for excellence.
However, he said that he was deeply depressed and concerned to hear that, in many ways, the main problems have changed very little over the three decades since he became closely involved with, and then, for a while, accountable for health service performance: “What was remarkable and concerning was that the same cluster of issues as I heard back in the late 80’s were causing concern now, in November 2019 – but even worse:
- Shortages of nursing staff, and difficulties in recruitment
- Increased levels of staff sickness
- Persistent financial deficits
- “Winter pressures” lasting the whole year round
- An over-stretched A&E missing national targets by 15%
- Underfunded social care.
The meeting heard that this key local NHS Trust is heading into the winter period in a much more worrying state than they would have liked – escalation beds, usually kept for mid-winter pressures, have already had to be opened - and that this picture is reflected nation-wide. The Board was told that “winter is a real cause for concern”.
Jonathan says: “If I am elected MP for Tatton, I will be in a unique position to use my in-depth knowledge of health and social care, my professional expertise, and my life-long engagement with people who are left vulnerable by the inequalities of our society, for the benefit of all.”