NHS Struggling With Brexit, Aggressive Patients and Staff Shortages

Local trust board notes point to high risk to future provision

London hospitals are struggling with staff shortages, regular equipment breakdowns, and increased violence.

There are significant risks at a number of NHS trusts in the capital, according to board notes scrutinised by the Labour party.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has noted high risks to its services.

The trust runs Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Maternity Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital, both in White City, as well as St Mary’s in Paddington and Western Eye in Marylebone.

It said accident and emergency services were at risk because there were more patients with mental health problems.

Rising violence, and failure of equipment at its hospitals were also serious risks to services.

North Middlesex University Hospital in Enfield faces 14 serious risks to its services. These include the potential impact of Brexit on supply chains, violence and aggression at the hospital, and over-reliance on agency staff.

Ageing gamma cameras used for scans regularly break down, and the liquidation of private contractor Concordia Specialist Care Services has threatened dermatology at the hospital.

At Barts Health NHS Trust in east London, the board has identified six high risks.

The trust runs four hospitals – the Royal London in Whitechapel, St Bartholomew’s in the City of London, Whipps Cross in Leytonstone and Newham Hospital in Plaistow.

The board said it was struggling to recruit, and was relying on agency staff, with uncertainties about Brexit a possible cause.

And it said there might not be funding for planned fire safety updates, which could mean it wouldn’t comply with regulation.

Labour says it will focus on these concerns in its first 100 days in government, if elected.

The party has promised to end and reverse privatisation of the NHS and invest £15 billion in the health service over the next parliament.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the NHS is “in crisis and on the brink”.

He said: “It is one thing for clinicians and managers to say what needs fixing, but we need a Labour government that will crack on and do it.

“We pledge that within the first 100 days of a Labour government we will get on top of this to ensure the extra funding we’ve promised is prioritised to keep patients and staff safe.

“The choice at this election is clear: five more years of the Tories running our health service into the ground – with more patients waiting longer for cancer treatment and operations, and more young people denied mental health care – or a Labour government on the side of patients and staff, with a rescue plan for our NHS.”

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Greens said the Conservatives had treated the NHS “with contempt” and had “forced it into crisis”.

She said: “Greens would increase funding for the NHS by at least £6 billion a year every year until 2030, to slam the door on the NHS funding gap.

“This would allow the NHS to tackle the £1 billion highest-risk maintenance backlog, which is dangerously compromising fire safety and allowing once grand buildings to crumble.”

Ms Berry said her party would bring back the nursing bursary, and end the privatisation of health services.

She added: “Greens would never, ever, allow the NHS to be up for sale in dodgy trade deals with Trump’s America.”

The Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party have not responded to requests for comment.

Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

December 12, 2019

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