Unions: “Throwing money at it won’t solve NHS problems in Hertfordshire”

Hemel Hempstead Hospital
Hemel Hempstead Hospital
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More cash alone will not be enough to solve the underlying problems faced by the NHS in Hertfordshire, it was claimed this week.

Following last week’s in-depth look at the health service’s winter pressures, the Gazette spoke to public sector trade union UNISON.

Chris Jenkinson, UNISON

Chris Jenkinson, UNISON

And they see the county as being emblematic of the wider problems affecting the health service.

Regional secretary Chris Jenkinson told the Gazette: “West Herts is dealing with problems like the rest of the NHS, from acute trusts to ambulance services.

“We have increasing demand, principally because people are living for longer. There’s been a collapse in community care functions, and too few beds in hospitals.

“Consequently the health system gets blocked up and we see those pressures which exist anyway get even worse.”

He added: “George Osborne introduced austerity in 2010, which affected not just the NHS but social care.

“Traditionally politicians have tackled crises in the 
NHS by just throwing 
more money at it – but we can’t just magic new beds and 
staff from nowhere.

“And in Herts you have a talent drain of staff being close to London, where they can earn more money.”

As the Gazette reported last week, West Herts Hospitals Trust has come out of special measures after two-and-a-half years. However inspectors have still found a number of issues with the overall rating remaining ‘Requires Improvement’ – the second lowest available score.

Nonetheless Mr Jenkinson was full of praise for frontline staff at Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans hospitals.

But he added: “Short-term talk and reviews aren’t the answer. We need a plan for the next five, 10 or 15 years so that managers can plan and recruit with confidence.”