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Let Your Voice Be Heard!

(58 Posts)
sparklingsilver28 Tue 18-Aug-20 16:21:59

The concerns expressed by recent “Panorama” programmes and Silver Voices regarding NHS care for the elderly raises very serious issues. It has been quite clear best treatment and care is not being made available to older patients based on age alone. There is however an example before us of what can be achieved with the appropriate care. HM the Queen 94 and her husband 99, I am sure no GP or NHS service would ever measure their healthcare worth based on age. It really is time to fight for an NHS that serves the needs of all patients. Many senior citizens will have paid into a healthcare/social system throughout a working life, and many still contributing via taxation; and discrimination on age infringes human rights and is also illegal. Make your voice heard on there behalf.

sparklingsilver28 Tue 18-Aug-20 16:27:28


The Coronavirus pandemic has not only saddled the NHS with an unprecedented backlog of tests and operations, but the crisis is being used to force through fundamental changes in the way our health service operates, particularly through increased privatisation at all levels and the moves towards remote diagnosis. The opposition parties need to call time on these insidious policy and political changes, otherwise our NHS in 2021 will be a quite different animal than that before the lockdown.


The challenges are enormous. The obsession to “protect the NHS” and build new Nightingale hospitals, led to a complete halt of many normal NHS functions. Cancer screening programmes were suspended, leading to about 2 million people in the UK waiting for routine tests. It is hardly surprising that there was a drop in urgent cancer referrals of 21% between June 2019 and June 2020, 40,000 less people referred for urgent cancer treatment. There was a staggering 43% drop in urgent breast cancer referrals during the same period. Cancer Research UK also point out that 6000 less people have been receiving chemotherapy as booked sessions were widely cancelled. The death toll from the delays in diagnosing and treating cancer will be huge.

The waiting lists for elective surgery are now almost unbelievable (non-urgent operations like hip and knee replacements and removing cataracts, involving mostly older people). The waiting list stood at the record level of 4 million before the lockdown, it is now estimated to stand at 8 million and could reach 10 million during the winter months. These operations may be non-urgent, but the pain and suffering caused by delays running into years should not be underestimated.

Silver Voices believes that there should be an emergency action plan, and the necessary funding, to bring waiting times down to levels lower than those at the start of the pandemic. Why are the opposition parties not making this demand and publicising their own proposals?


The Government is taking advantage of the crisis and emergency legislation to increase, significantly, the role of private companies in the NHS, often without a tendering process. Private companies were given lucrative contracts to set up and run virus testing centres and laboratories, build Nightingale hospitals and procure personal protective equipment. The expertise of local public health bodies was bypassed in setting up a centralised ‘track and trace’ system run by private companies. Every bed in private hospitals was block-booked by the NHS in case they were needed, providing a handy cushion of support for the private sector during the lockdown. The NHS is now discussing a ‘volume-based’ deal with the private sector to provide up to 2 million procedures a year to the NHS. Why are the Nightingale hospitals not being used instead to build up public sector capacity?

This drive to privatise as the preferred policy is also evident at local community health level, at least in England. In some areas services such as health visiting and district nursing are run by the likes of Virgin Care, patient transport is privatised, eye infections are treated under contract by Specsavers and other private opticians; and mental health therapy is run by independent operators. Some may argue that the private sector can provide a better service, but our argument is that these changes are being forced through without public debate. They just happen without consultation. And once privatised it will be much easier to start charging for specific services.


The final reconfiguration of our NHS which concerns us most, as representatives of older people, is the rush towards a virtual or online health service. Under cover of the lockdown there is a real danger that doctor-patient physical consultation will become a rarity in the future. The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock recently stated: “all GP consultations should be remote by default”. We receive many reports of it becoming impossible now to book an appointment with a doctor, having to explain personal details to a receptionist and then being fobbed off with a phone call, perhaps with a nurse or pharmacist. Sometimes appointments have to be made online, with no clear alternatives available. The dangers of missed diagnoses, particularly with older people who may be reluctant to go into personal symptoms on the phone or by Zoom video link, are obvious.

Our view is that, for older people at least, there should be a right to a face to face appointment with a doctor. If people want to choose alternative communication methods that is fine, but the right to an appointment should be absolute and people should not be bullied into accepting a virtual or telephone option.

The policy positions above are in line with previous consultations with members. But as we have had such a large rise in membership, about 1000 in three months, we want to check that we are still in tune with the majority of our members. Because of our increase in income we have now afforded a contract with an independent survey company, SurveyMonkey, to conduct our future polls and surveys. This means that polls will be conducted anonymously, with only the overall totals being presented to Silver Voices, and it will make it much more efficient and democratic to involve our members in the development of our campaigns and policies.

EllanVannin Tue 18-Aug-20 16:46:38

I must admit that the handful of times I've had the misfortune of being admitted since 2006 ( never before that time ) I've had the greatest of care from everyone concerned. My last time was in December for about 7 hours in resus. Nobody could do enough and I'm ancient grin
Well done Arrowe Park.Wirral.

lemongrove Tue 18-Aug-20 16:58:56

I don’t know about this year ( with Covid) but certainly in the last couple of years, family members and friends ( aged 75 to 87) have had excellent care and outcomes for different cancers in the NHS.

Gwyneth Tue 18-Aug-20 17:26:48

Sparkling silver
I was very interested in reading your very informative post and absolutely agree with everything you say about the NHS. It is now very difficult to see a GP face to face and this worries me greatly. You’re right in saying that the opposition parties are not challenging this and perhaps we should all make the effort to write to our MPs before it is too late.
My brother sadly died about 9 months before Covid but I noticed then that his GP and the primary care trust were trying to resolve problems by phone when they most certainly should have been seeing him face to face. As a result he suffered a lot of unnecessary pain and distress. Covid has exacerbated this change and we need to challenge it.

ayse Tue 18-Aug-20 17:45:54

Sparkling Silver, I too agree with all the points made in your post. The NHS is not alone in being shifted online. As usual, it affects the poorest in society and to my mind is creating an underclass that find it very difficult to access help and information.

NHS 111 gives very basic information as do many websites and it is increasingly difficult to talk to a person about health concerns, amongst other things.

Our local authority has to be contacted via the net. It makes me so cross, wasting huge amounts of time negotiating websites. For example, a drain cover had been removed and I spent an hour trying to report it. This particular part of the site did not work. Eventually I wrote to my local councillor and it was sorted within 2 days! Eduction is in a similar position!

Sorry to hijack this thread for the grumble! This is called ‘progress’. Do you want to talk to Alexa about your health. Who is listening?

It’s very 1984!

sparklingsilver28 Tue 18-Aug-20 21:07:45

Thank you all for your response and pleased to hear there have been positives. Sadly, this is not reflected universally. When I learnt from "Panorama" and saw the distress of care workers left to watch very sick and dying residents in great pain, left without medical care, it was almost impossible to believe this had happened in England.

Dr Cathy Gardner, whose 88-year-old father Michael Gibson died on 3 April at the Cherwood House Care Centre in Oxfordshire, Herself a doctor, and Chair of East Devon District Council, wrote to the government asking them to accept responsibility for its failure to protect vulnerable people in care homes. The response, her action was a waste of government time, where upon she has proceeded to sue the government for its failing. I have supported her campaign since I believe the government did fail to act appropriately and is indeed responsible for the many deaths in care homes.

What concerns me further, and why I have become a member of Silver Voices ( the failure to act appropriately a clear warning, in respect of future action with regard to NHS services, and its disproportionate adverse effect likely to have on vulnerable groups including the elderly.

winterwhite Wed 19-Aug-20 09:36:56

Hospital care is excellent when you get it, it's the GP referrals, and waiting lists that are the problem, and of course after care.

Interesting piece in papers today about slowness of dementia research being due to unsuitable modelling of tests that don't sufficiently allow for participants' obvs inability to comprehend, fall out of the trial for that reason and so on. Sounds plausible to me, and a good e.g. of healthcare for older people being allowed to drift along.

Aepgirl Wed 19-Aug-20 09:41:24

Since lockdown I have had two clinic appointments at my local hospital, and the care was exceptional (I’m 75). I certainly didn’t feel I was being treated any differently than anybody else.
I had to ‘wait’ 2 weeks to get appointments - hardly a problem.

polnan Wed 19-Aug-20 09:49:32

I have found that the care in hospitals is far superior to the GP

minxie Wed 19-Aug-20 09:52:50

This sounds very worrying, but my Dad aged 91 had very good care right up to end. He was ill and He was well looked after. I prey this continues for the future

Gaunt47 Wed 19-Aug-20 09:55:00

SS28 Thank you so much for starting this thread! Never I felt the need more for a ticking facility here!
Your points about the National Covid Service are so very well made. Hospital staff brave enough to risk their jobs are now admitting to there being empty wards, high levels of absenteeism among staff at all levels.
But acknowledging that large areas of the health service are currently underused or that treatment is inappropriate is sadly not going to improve the service.
The health service has been a political football for several decades. Funding it is not the issue, although many will claim it is, what's needed is a bloody good shake up country wide. And bring back matrons!!

Humbertbear Wed 19-Aug-20 09:59:47

My mother is 99 and she gets nothing but the best care from our GP and local health services. She was admitted to hospital with a suspected heart problem during lockdown and the care and follow up has been amazing.

Tinydancer Wed 19-Aug-20 10:31:05

I think Sparklingsilver makes some excellent points. Sadly the opposition are not in a position to make much change as the Government have a majority of 80 and they have been stuffing the House of Lords with their cronies. It is the largest second house of any democratic country, surpassed only by China and totally unelected.
The Conservative party exist just to privatise. Yesterday Dido Harding was pronounced as the head of the new institution to replace Public Health England, yes in the middle of a pandemic! She has no experience in this area. She just happens to be married to a Tory MP who is in a group wanting insurance style health care USA style. She has failed miserably at everything she has previously been head of Talk Talk and Track and Trace to name two. The latter costing the tax payer millions and slowing any progress we may have made in halting Covid 19. The former resulting in personally finding myself talking to a scammer having my Talk Talk account number when they failed with customer account privacy measures. This new institution is to be handled by Serco, need I say any more? If I do please do your own research on this little treasure.

On the occasions when I have been in hospital the staff have been very pleasant and kind. It has been very obvious that they are totally overstretched and with one condition in A & E they kept saying I would be back in within the week for surgery. This happened three times and eventually after a night spent in Resus I was operated on. What a waste of money with ambulances, A & E visits and tests, not to mention the possibly life threatening condition and horrendous pain I was in. NHS is totally underfunded and overstretched.

With the emergency legislation brought in with Covid 19 even more contracts are being awarded privately, interestingly to yet more incompetent companies with off-shore tax accounts to Tory chums. We are being bled dry.

Daisymae Wed 19-Aug-20 10:41:45

My late mother had dire care at the hands of the NHS. I was staggered at what happened and even wrote to her MP when the hospital failed to act. I had the distinct feeling that this treatment was not news to the hospital or anyone else.

BRAVEBETH Wed 19-Aug-20 10:42:41

My mother gets very little help from the

NHS. She is 100 years old. I am her full time carer. It is soul destroying to see how she is treated by her GP
He will increase her pain medication freely
She had a UTI recently and the ambulance man complained his shift 10 minutes ago.I was shocked. I was left to pick up the pieces yet again.I am exhausted

Greeneyedgirl Wed 19-Aug-20 10:50:49

This situation with the NHS has been building up gradually over the last few years and many have been unaware of it. Individual care may be very good in hospital, (but not universally so) but the care system for the elderly and vulnerable is largely privatised, unaccountable and patchy in quality, and therein lies the problem.

I feel very depressed about the fact that the NHS, both hospital and GP services have been ‘prepared’ for a US style takeover, with an insurance based system. I don’t believe GP services will ever return to pre Covid style of face to face appointments, without strict triage. Our local Clinical Commissioning Group has in fact informed us of this.

Gwyneth Wed 19-Aug-20 10:56:00

Winter white yes , I agree with your comments. In the case of my brother he received excellent care in hospital. It was his own surgery and after care that was awful. This included the receptionists to the doctors.
On a slightly different thread, I wonder why the tax payer is contributing large amounts to the cost of training GPs when as in our surgery almost 75% only work part time. No wonder there is a shortage . Neither is it good value for the tax payer. Would it also not be more effective if GPs were specialists in a particular field to avoid long delays in a diagnosis. This would mean treatments for cancer, for example, could begin much earlier and more lives could be saved. Currently, GPs are only a gateway to further long drawn out waiting lists. In our surgery, despite being within your allotted appointment time, a GP will not even take a blood sample. Instead you have to often wait weeks to see a nurse to do this which causes even more delays. It begs the question what is the point of GPs in their current role?

HAZBEEN Wed 19-Aug-20 11:00:30

This policy of telephone consultations with Consultants is a step to far. I have just been given a diagnosis of blood cancer over the phone. That was 2 weeks ago. I finally received some information in the post on Saturday but still have not got an appointment for a face to face appointment at the Day clinic to discuss and start my treatment. No one answers the phone, you have to email and wait for a reply, so I obviously have many questions which I am finding hard to get an answer to.

Gwenisgreat1 Wed 19-Aug-20 11:36:34

Well, I can't praise them enough. For a few years I've had a very painful toe. In January I was told it can be operated on which could help, but I'd have to wait at least 6 months. Then came COVID, I decided it would be next year before it was done. To my amazement, I was done on Monday. I had excellent treatment, I don't yet know if it has worked, of course. But I'm grateful for the attempt and can't praise Harrogate District Hospital enough.

maddyone Wed 19-Aug-20 11:45:49

Was on earth has GPs working part time got to do with care given? My daughter is a GP and works long hours, usually 11 to 12 a day, at her practice, where she works two days a week. She has another job which involves delivery of services, but although to be a qualified GP was necessary for the role, it does not involve contact with patients. So my daughter works three full days a week, usually about 36 hours per week. She has a two year old and six year old twins. Did you work those hours when you had such small children Gwyneth?

And don’t even get me started on how hard she worked during the Covid19 crisis!

crimpedhalo Wed 19-Aug-20 11:48:11

I was diagnosed with a few life changing diseases just before lockdown. While in with my gp, I was explaining why I was feeling so very tired 6 months prior and he boringly said...oh there's no room to type all he stared at the computer....dr google here I come?

Welshwife Wed 19-Aug-20 12:27:08

Should the U.K. go to a private/insurance funded health system I fear that many people will be excluded from getting treatment.
My son is in USA and he has some health care in with his work contract. He does pay monthly and does have a small amount of leeway as to the cover he chooses. His current one he pays a good amount (thousands of dollars) for their treatment (as a family) each year before the insurance kicks in!
Here in France 70% of the cost of care and medication is paid from taxes etc and patients pay the other 30% themselves or it is paid by a top up insurance. These insurances increase in cost as you get older - we now pay about £180 a month for the two of us.
I had a lymphoma diagnosed about 2 years ago and luckily all cancer treatment is state funded - if it were not most people would not be able to pay. My first week in hospital cost about€13000/and my first prescription €2000. This just gives you an idea of cost.
I agree with the poster who mentioned Matrons - since their demise things have been run by people not medically trained but with an eye on the finances.

sparklingsilver28 Wed 19-Aug-20 13:10:23

Maddyone: I believe you have answered your own question. This generation of GPs complain they do not have time to give patients more than 10 minutes per patient consultation. If this is the case, how can the total case load of a surgery be meet by part-time GPs? Yes, my daughter, with two small boys, worked full time and with commute time 7 am to 8 pm. The local surgery here has a website and patient review page in which far too many comments of praise from temporary patients (tourists) here on holiday, able to go into the surgery and be seen by a GP. Long term and house-bound patients left with phone consultation option. The latter because GPs no longer want to make home visits. In my day, medicine, like nursing, a vocation of dedicated professionals committed to their patient’s welfare 365 days a year.

maddyone Wed 19-Aug-20 13:28:33

My daughter and her husband, also a GP, do make home visits. They also visit care homes to treat the residents and continued to do this all through the Covid19 crisis. They gave palliative care to patients who were dying in care homes. Of course GPs are trying to treat patients via phone calls, video calls, and surgery visits now with the Covid19 situation as it is still.

The total care load of GPs is met by more GPs being employed by each surgery. That’s why there will often be many GPs listed at a surgery rather than the three or four that there used to be. My daughter is one of about ten GPs working at her surgery. Are Gransnetters actually saying that a GP should not be allowed to work part time? Why not? The rest of society has the right to work part time after the birth of children. If female GPs were not allowed to make this choice, they wouldn’t work at all until their children were all at school, and that wouldn’t help with the GP shortage. I don’t understand the fuss a lot of retirees on Gransnet make about young women working part time as a GP whilst raising young children.