I cannot stress enough how precarious the situation in health and social care is in Cornwall.
In April the CQC (a bit like Ofsted for health and social care) did an inspection across Cornwall and the IOS.
They have just announced their findings:
“It was clear the majority of the services we inspected were trying to provide good care. However, there was lack of cross organisational working which meant the system was under extreme pressure and struggling to meet people’s needs in a safe and timely way. We found significant delays to people’s treatment across all services, putting them at risk of harm.”
“People tried to start their journey in primary care. However, both people using services and ambulance service staff trying to arrange it for patients, found it difficult to access GPs, dentists and mental health services. These patients then ended up at urgent and emergency care services because they couldn’t get help elsewhere. Staff working in these services treated those patients to the best of their ability, but it meant patients weren’t always receiving the right care in the right place.”
"Staff shortages in social care across Cornwall, especially for nursing staff, are some of the highest seen in England.”
“This had a knock-on effect on the next part of people's journey through the system as it resulted in long delays for people waiting to leave hospital."
So many people have been pointing at the ambulance queues outside Treliske for months that are now becoming years. We are becoming immune to it. However, this quote from the report is chilling -
“We found significant delays to people’s treatment across all services, putting them at risk of harm”
“Putting them at risk of harm” means that people aren’t getting to hospital quickly after heart attacks and strokes as well as not being treated in a timely manner for most things. You can die or suffer irreversible damage due to delays in treatment. Some people won’t survive ambulance delays when they’ve had a suspected heart attack or stroke; or lying on the floor with a broken hip for a hours and hours; or a lack of mental health support when they’re self harming and desperate.
It is very clear that health and care workers in Cornwall are brilliant and are working desperately hard to provide good care, but there simply aren’t enough of them, the services aren’t joined up & the ‘front doors’ of the system aren’t working.
We have a Health and Social Care Scrutiny committee meeting coming up. We’ll raise these things again (Andrew George Loveday Jenkin Nicky Chopak Armand Toms John Bastin) However the problems are so entrenched. The lack of staff would take a huge push in the form of a National Workforce Strategy to start to fix and it takes time to train medical and care professionals.
So as opposition politicians, I feel that what we must do, consistently and constantly, is shout for Cornwall’s health service and hold leaders to account. There is a lack of joined up co-ordination in Cornish services. That must be tackled. And Westminster is a long way away. They must be made aware of how we are struggling down here. Help must be made available for Cornwall.