I really must start this weeks column by congratulating Hartlepool Ambulance Worker Martin Fletcher on his receipt of the Queens Medal for over 20 years service in the NHS. The medal is the highest honour an Emergency Worker can receive for being on the frontline and it truly is a hard-earned accolade.
20 years service is a phenomenal stint delivering emergency care, especially when you think about the day to day pressure faced by ambulance crews in making the difference between life and death. It strikes me that such workers must have nerves of steel, but the fact is they are just as normal as you and me.
Over a cup of tea and a catch up recently a very good friend of mine reminisced about his daughter-in-law; a trained Paediatric Doctor, now retraining as a GP. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress because she was left in charge of a cesarean birth one day as a young Junior Doctor with no back up at a local hospital. The operation went well but the shock for her as a rookie with no help, was that two people’s lives were at stake; the mother and the baby. Just shows you that people who we don’t expect to need help really do need help.
I raise this because a very important issue has been brought to my attention through my Surgery and is a situation compounded by the outcome of problems faced by folk over Universal Credit. People in need of help from the Mental Health Crisis Team are, in their own words, being let down. In my opinion it’s not the fault of the Crisis Teams employed by our Mental Health Trust nor even the Trust , but it’s a fact that interventions are taking longer and the lack of a walk-in centre in Hartlepool isn’t helping. Although mental health in my mind has been the Cinderella Service for a long time now, it’s the fact that mental health has been so underfunded for such a long time that overstretched services have become the norm.
Labour’s pledge at Party Conference this week to properly fund the NHS and Social Care in Government is therefore welcome news, alongside their promise to end the scourge of PFI and private sector profiteering from NHS provision and infrastructure. Conference has been focussed, upbeat and vibrant and it was great to see so many people energised by it. I was proud to see a record number of people from Hartlepool pay their own way and turn up to witness events for themselves in Liverpool. But what also touched me was the number of people who came over to talk to me about our town and who knew it well either through visiting or through family ties, like David from Nottinghamshire who I met at a UNISON fringe meeting.
Turns out that David’s Great Grandad worked as a Drayman at Cameron’s Brewery and suffered an injury at work when one of the horses stamped on his foot. The Doctor was called out and he was operated on there and then on a nearby table. It’s a small world isn’t it? And thank goodness for our modern NHS.