|Poppy field near Cirencester|
In the last two weeks I have had cause to help two family members who have gone into hospital - one locally - it has not been an easy experience but staff have been respectful and caring. However it is clear they are very stretched for time - calls at the weekend to Gloucester Royal went unanswered - I made several attempts ringing for over 20 minutes each time and when I visited the ward several times this week the poor nurses seemed very understaffed to deal with all the patients. It is plainly not the right time to be spending billions on reorganisation when we need to invest in existing services.
The concern is also that we are loading yet more onto carers at home - last week was Carers Week - it is estimated there are 6.4 million carers in the UK who face cuts to services and benefits. This is despite the fact that carers who look after relatives or friends are saving the nation £119bn a year - or almost as much as the entire cost of the NHS, according to the latest calculation by researchers. This figure has gone up almost 40% since 2007, when the value of carers was put at £87bn.
The ageing population is making caring a fact of life for every family. Increasing numbers look set to be pushed to breaking point – forced out of work and into poverty, ill-health and isolation. Very worrying times but I also hear many people saying this cannot be allowed to happen. The cuts that are proposed go too deep and too fast. For Glos Carers see: www.carersgloucestershire.org.uk/