ANOTHER New Year and another plan to help the region’s hospitals meet A&E waiting time targets. A more effective triage system to identity priority cases; better availability of senior doctors to discharge patients; more GP appointment slots.
Though the so-called ‘acceleration zone’ plan for West Yorkshire, Harrogate and Craven appears laudable, these are common sense remedies which should already be happening as a matter of routine. As this is not the case, it points to more fundamental failings.
No new scheme can mask the fact that pressure on hospitals is being compounded by shortcomings in general practice – patients regularly have to wait in excess of fortnight to obtain an appointment with their GP – and that there’s not sufficient support in the local community for elderly patients waiting to be discharged.
Shamefully, the latter have, in recent times, been described as ‘bed blockers’ – a quite disparaging term which makes the individuals concerned feel like an unnecessary burden to the NHS when, in fact, they’re victims of a health system made more dysfunctional by the lack of co-ordination between hospitals and social care providers. Unlike those NHS bureaucrats who only work between the hours of 9am and 5pm, the provision of healthcare is a 24/7 requirement and the problems are particularly profound in the evening, or at weekends, when the necessary practitioners are off duty or unavailable.
In this regard, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is correct when he talks about the concept of a seven-day-a-week NHS. What he forgets, like so many politicians, is that this is simply not possible without sufficient doctors, nurses or community carers in the first place. Until he accepts this, any remedy, however meritorious, will be sticking plaster solution which buys Ministers time and little else.
Honouring all: Community heroes marginalised
THE New Year Honours were always going to be dominated by Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes – and this is reflected by Sheffield’s very own golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill being made a dame.
Alongside the knighthoods being bestowed upon Andy Murray and Mo Farah, these honours are not just for sporting prowess but how this triumvirate have inspired a nation, and become role models to many, after overcoming adversity to enjoy sustained success at the pinnacle of their respective disciplines.
Perhaps the toughest task of all for the honours committee was deciding which sporting superstars to omit from a final list which is also noteworthy for an apparent dearth of community heroes from Yorkshire.
Though each of the recipients have excelled in their own field, not least Bishop James Jones who presided over the Hillsborough inquiry, it appears the powers-that-be have tried to be too populist.
Sir Ken Dodd? Dame Patricia Routledge (Hyacinth Bouquet)? Victoria Beckham OBE? It’s hard to justify these celebrity adornments, and the titles given to civil servants for doing their job, at the expense of those teachers, street cleaners, charity volunteers and community stalwarts who make such a lasting difference on a daily basis.
Though not household names, they contribute as much to the fabric of the nation as the sporting and showbusiness stars who have been honoured. Perhaps the time has come for the Queen’s Birthday honours next summer to become a celebrity-free zone in order to redress the balance.
A Hull of an opportunity
EVEN though Hull is proud of its cultural heritage, this proud city did lose its voice – and self-belief – when traditional industries ebbed away and it found itself in the economic doldrums for too long.
For some time, however, the tide has been quietly turning and Hull’s year in the international spotlight as the 2017 City of Culture is a chance to showcase East Yorkshire in a positive new light.
Expectations are high. Not only has the city set itself the formidable task of winning over the ‘glass half empty’ sceptics who live in Hull – but it wants to welcome those critics from further afield who think, erroneously, that the one and only John Prescott is an archetypal Hullonian.
Yet, judging by the programme of events, Hull is more than up for the challenge of putting on a party like no other that is capable of not only changing perceptions about this under-estimated city, but which enables its proud residents to look to the future with optimism.