BBC Sunday Politics: NHS and ‘miner’s lung’ disease

Last week I visited the BBC in Nottingham to film the regional section of the Sunday Politics Show.  Labour MPs rotate who appears so the burden is shared fairly.

Filming takes place on a Friday afternoon with an interviewer and a Conservative MP. This week my “opposite number” was Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield.

The BBC decide the topics and tell us the day before.  The discussion centred on the NHS following the filming of ‘Hospital’ at Nottingham A&E, and the Government’s refusal to scan ex-miners for the terminal disease ‘miner’s lung’, because no specific treatment is available.

This incredible attitude fails to take account of the personal benefits of knowing if you have a long-term and ultimately terminal condition – you can change your lifestyle if you wish, plan for your family’s future, and make the most of the time you have.

‘Hospital’ is captivating TV that offers a real insight into the pressure that NHS staff are under – during filming, all 1,700 beds in Nottingham were full and patients on trolleys lined the corridors.

Our studio discussion centred on whether more funding would help the NHS.  My view is that NHS staff are crucial and we need to invest in them.

Huge stress is leading to more and more NHS staff leaving, causing a vicious circle of staff shortages, and the need for expensive agency staff, costing even more.

While the NHS has seen a small increase in its funding, it cannot keep up with the growth in demand, fuelled by a shortage of GPs and massive cuts to social care.

Patients in High Peak now have to wait in pain for up to a year for operations such as hip replacements, while some cannot receive the care at home they need due to a lack of care staff.

Nottingham’s nurses reckoned that four fifths of their 1,700 patients in hospital beds didn’t need to be there – they needed a nursing home, care at home, or a rehabilitation ward.

When there’s such need, I fail to understand the proposal to halve the beds at Fenton Ward at the Cavendish where staff are expert at helping patients to get back home.

And when we desperately need dementia care staff, that experienced staff from Spencer Ward are at threat of redundancy – it’s a nonsense for our NHS to pay to lose staff, instead of keeping them.

Short term cuts create long term problems.   ‘Winter crises’ will continue until we invest properly in NHS staff – that sort of investment saves money in the long run – and gives better care.

For me it’s hard to disagree with such logic, but we had a good debate and I’m glad to have done my BBC stint for a good few weeks.


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