By Bridget Phillipson MP
Last Friday, I spent the evening shadowing staff in Sunderland Royal's Emergency Department. I wanted to see the pressure on staff and the situation for patients at a peak time. It was certainly a busy evening. Staff did their best to see patients as quickly as possible, but as ambulances brought in seriously ill patients, the waiting room filled up. Hospitals have been under real strain this summer. That's before we even get to the winter and the inevitable demands placed upon A&E departments. In the last year we've seen a big jump in waiting times with nearly 1 million people waiting more than 4 hours in A&E.
I raised my concerns with the Health Secretary in Parliament because north east hospitals have missed out extra government support to get them through the winter. Not one single penny of the £250 million will be coming to the north east. The strain being felt by the NHS comes after the biggest reorganisation in its history. Time, money and resources have been diverted into these damaging reforms. As we approach the winter, I fear that despite the best efforts of staff tough times lie ahead.
This article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo on 18th September 2013