NHS Lothian is going through a crisis. I’ve said it before on my blog but it bears repeating until vital investment in staff and services is delivered.
2015 saw lengthening waiting lists, increased spending on private hospitals, lack of access to care, the threat of closure of cleft surgery in Edinburgh and a 50% increase in cancelled operations. We’re hardly into 2016 but we already have found out 95 people died waiting for care packages in Edinburgh, and care workers are still receiving less than a living wage for the crucial service they provide.
Gordon Aikman, MND patient and campaigner, uncovered the stats about those waiting for care packages from a Freedom of Information request, and said “Behind these figures are real people with stories of desperation, misery and indignity.”
People shouldn’t be waiting months, and in some cases, years, for the care packages that would not only allow them to either return home or move into care, but would also alleviate some of the pressures on those currently having to fill in the gap – both family and friends, as well as the hospital staff who are having to be being diverted from other areas.
Across Scotland, a total of 276 sick and disabled people died waiting for their care packages, with Edinburgh making up a shocking third of that total. The lack of resource is already an issue with local councils having to deal with previous budget cuts and a financial squeeze. The scale of those pressures will only be exacerbated with the funding cuts Edinburgh Council has just had to announce. I’m calling on the Scottish Government to properly invest in social care services in the region, as well as ensure the care workers are being paid a proper living wage for such a beneficial but under-supported role. I’ve laid a question to Ministers next week so will have the chance to raise the issue directly in the Scottish Parliament.
Today, our Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale MSP, raised this with Nicola Sturgeon in First Minister’s Questions which you can watch here and you can read my most recent article on the pressures facing NHS Lothian for the Edinburgh Evening News here