NHS at breaking point says ‘appalled’ Leeds councillor

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A SENIOR councillor in Yorkshire’s largest city has said patients and NHS staff are being let down because of a refusal to talk honestly about the scale of problems faced by the system.

Coun Peter Gruen, who chairs Leeds Health Scrutiny Board, said current efforts focused too much on short-term solutions and were failing to address the root causes.

His comments were prompted by cancelled operations, reports of patients waiting on trolleys in hospital corridors and a shortage of community beds in the city.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “People are genuinely worried, I think, that the NHS might just fail under the pressure and not be able to cope.

“Who on earth would have thought that we would be back to trolleys queuing in corridors?

“It’s absolutely appalling that people can’t get into A&E, can’t get into a bed and we’re having elective operations cancelled. To me, it’s at breaking point.”

He also voiced concerns about the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which is due to be published soon. It is being built from six local area plans for Bradford, Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.

Rob Webster, who is leading on the plan, said: “These six local plans are where the majority of the work happens across the STP footprint and decisions are made as close to local populations as possible to ensure services are sustainable and meet people’s health and social care needs now and in the future.”

It will involve joint working on the services such as stroke care and urgent and emergency care.

The STP area was also selected by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last month as England’s first
“acceleration zone” in an initiative designed to tackle the worsening crisis in hospitals.

It is being expected to turn around emergency and urgent care by March, using £8.6m from NHS England.

Meanwhile, Leeds Systems Resilience Assurance Board – a high level decision making body for the local NHS – said it was working with health and social care partners in the city to relieve pressure on hospitals.

A spokesman added: “Our top priority is always to provide the best possible care to every patient. We are extremely grateful to all of the staff who work incredibly hard to do this.”

Coun Gruen said there was no question that NHS staff in the city were committed but huge issues such as care for the elderly highlighted the lack of money in the system. He added: “We need people to put all the facts and figures on the table and find a solution.”