I’d like to end 2020 on an upbeat note.
But I have no desire to stick my head in the sand
Civil society in Wales is not in a good place.
Our Covid figures are the worst in the UK nations and the NHS is falling, or probably has already fallen, over.
And political accountability on a range of issues is non-existent.
Starting with the small stuff first, the idea that the majority of people pay the smallest amount of attention to various enjoinders or rules about the Covid situation is a joke.
I see secondary school children, old ladies and athletic looking middle aged men without masks in shops unchallenged by shop workers while pre recorded voice messages play over the tannoy system telling us all how there is a one way system in force, everyone must wear masks and assistants will enforce the rules.
Families have extended family over to visit from many different households and not just in the Christmas window and way beyond those limits.
And why would they pay attention when the rules change seemingly from day to day?
And when someone writes to ask a question via email about the policy, the system, its implications for a Welsh student studying and living in England and whether they can and how they should return for essential services still registered for in Wales, and might the Welsh Government apply a little more thought to those in that position, they are ignored.
The official system my daughter used to contact Mark Drakeford some months ago specifically says that the enquiry will receive an answer. She wasn’t expecting a personally signed vellum scroll in reply, but not to receive even an acknowledgment, as required, undermines belief in even the most basic lip service to democratic accountability and engagement.
But politicians and officials seem to care little about what the pubic want. We have recently had a new superhospital open in our area, The Grange at Cwmbran – the one recently in the news with no beds for A & E and patients sat overnight in ambulances waiting. Which is odd as it is the A & E hospital now for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. This has a huge catchment area and is not on the established public transport links in the area. Newport is the focal point for transport links in the area. Cwmbran is up one of the valleys and if you need to get there you have to change buses or trains at least once, in Newport, to get there and then the hospital is nowhere near the station in Cwmbran.
But obviously if you need to get there in an emergency you will use an ambulance to get you there in time to save you without the bother of public transport.
The 86 year old grandmother of a friend of my daughter had a fall a couple of days ago. She was in agony and the family couldn’t move her themselves as they suspected she had broken her hip. They rang for an ambulance to take her to the new state of the art centre of excellence that is the Grange at Cwmbran.
26 and a half hours later an ambulance arrived. The ambulance driver said he would complain as his patient was by then in a bad way and he had not heard about the call until recently. That obviously stops the press stories about waiting in ambulances for a bed.
As suspected, she as a broken hip, and will have an operation tomorrow.
I’d suggest writing to someone to complain, but as nobody is even likely to acknowledge it, it hardly seems worth it does it?
In case anyone thinks Covid and/or teething problems with the new hospital in Cwmbran are to blame, nearly two years ago my GP rang for an ambulance for me when my heart went into atrial flutter and I had a resting pulse of c150 beats per minute. I waited for a couple of hours and rang to see what was happening. There were no ambulances. They sub contracted a taxi.
Fortunately my wife got back from hospital and drove me to hospital. The ambulance/taxi never did arrive.
There were no beds. There were no trolleys. I sat in a chair in the waiting room overnight, eventually hooked up to a drip to see if they could get my heart rate down before I saw someone about sixteen hours later and I eventually got a trolley. I moved up through the hierarchy for a couple of days until I eventually got to a cardiac ward bed, got my heart rate under control and was discharged for cardioversion at a later (five month) date.
There was no Covid. There were no teething problems
I’m not having a pop at the NHS staff, but at the failure to finance, organise and direct their efforts while talking gibberish about how brilliant everything is.
A little less effort on the ‘message’ front and a little more at getting the bloody thing right would help.
It’s not just the NHS, and it’s not just Wales.
Underfunding, poor planning and a desire to egregiously lie about how ‘World Beating’ everything is at every verse end is infecting every facet of public life in the UK. And it is not ‘public service inefficiency’ that is the problem. The efficacy of the Government’s remedy of choice, privatised sub contracting, can be seen in the woeful performance the World Beating private test, track and trace system in England. It is undoubtedly setting records but not at the end of the leader board you’d like it to be.
A little more honesty and genuine attempts to fix problems rather than ‘perceptions’ would go a long way.