GMB union Neil Smith wants us to Save our NHS after his hospitalisation

Senior doctors, nurses and ambulance staff are warning that this winter could bring the worst crisis the NHS has ever faced.

17 November 2021

Neil Smith, GMB union Political Officer, urges us to Save Our NHS after first hand experience.

I thought I was aware of the problems facing the NHS and its hard-pressed staff until I ended up in in A&E and eventually a hospital bed. Grim statistics and personal horror stories in the media can sometimes wash over us as there are so many bad news stories out there. But it is only first-hand experience that can really bring home the shocking reality of how overstretched and under pressure our health service is.

I had been sent to the hospital by my GP as my condition was thought to be sufficiently concerning. When I got there, it resembled a war zone, with all the seats filled and many people standing waiting to be seen. Little did I know I was to be waiting 18 hours before I was seen by a triage nurse.

That was bad enough but what followed shocked me to the core. My own situation wasn't great and I was told I was being kept in for treatment as it was even more serious than initially thought. I have to say right now the support from staff working at full throttle was great as I went through scans and tests to monitor and treat my condition.

During the days I spent in the hospital, I watched and listened to nursing and medical staff so overstretched that some broke down in tears at times and some were sent home as they just couldn't cope after breaking down in front of patients and other staff.

Despite being under so much pressure trying to do their difficult, life-saving jobs with not enough staff on the ward, I saw no sign of them letting their standards drop. This must have been a struggle as at times they ran out of towels, at one stage I had to use a pillow case to get washed and dried and was gobsmacked to hear they had run out of paracetamol on the ward at one stage.

Then it got worse. Stress and anxiety rocketed for everyone with an outbreak of Covid, requiring a deep clean in all the bays.

I can honestly say while I was there as a patient, watching the whole day to day battle to keep on top of things the porters, nursing staff, doctors, cleaners, caterers were fantastic. They had to be as it is obvious that the years of cutbacks and austerity from this government is taking its toll on the NHS.

I left the hospital on my road to recovery, but very mindful that the staff that remain there every day facing the same struggles to cope with insufficient resources and staff. I know from conversations with GMB officers that this scenario is the same across our region. A&E departments so busy that ambulances are queuing outside because there isn't enough staff or hospital beds. The same ambulance services that are having to use unqualified staff adding to the threat to patients of inadequately resourced hospitals and clinics. The GMB wrote to the Health Minister Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, chair of the health select committee and are yet to receive the courtesy of a reply.

Senior doctors, nurses and ambulance staff are warning that this winter could bring the worst crisis the NHS has ever faced. We must ask why? Is it a soft touch for a government making cuts behind our backs? Is it a strategic move to undermine the NHS and propose greater reliance on the private sector? Remember this is a private sector that makes significant donations to the Tory Party and is part of the political mindset we now associate with the corruption and nepotism of this government.

We need a massive campaign to stop the demise of the NHS and demand investment in the right places such as equipment and increased staffing. We should not stop until the powers that be realise the people of this country will not stand by as they dismantle the services, ignoring the tens of thousands of deaths through neglect of our friends and families. Not by the NHS workforce but through political negligence. Let's stand up for our NHS and its heroic workers.

Neil Smith

GMB Union

Political Officer

North West & Irish Region

Save our NHS says Neil Smith and join the GMB union here