Praise for ‘dedicated efforts’ of Vic staff

Good work: The under-pressure A&E department at Blackpool Victoria. Below, Andy Burnham MP
Good work: The under-pressure A&E department at Blackpool Victoria. Below, Andy Burnham MP
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The “extraordinary efforts” of under-pressure staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E have been praised by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

Mr Burnham, who was visiting the Fylde coast, criticised the Government, saying A&E services nationally were at “breaking point” and his Labour party had a plan to “save the NHS”.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham speaks during the fourth day of the Labour Party Conference in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 29, 2010. See PA story LABOUR Miliband. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham speaks during the fourth day of the Labour Party Conference in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday September 29, 2010. See PA story LABOUR Miliband. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Shadow Health Secretary held an open evening to answer questions from Labour members in Fleetwood, and support Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Fleetwood and Lancaster, Cat Smith.

Mr Burnham told supporters that if voters left the NHS in the hands of the Conservatives for five more years, there might be no NHS to save come the time of the next election.

Earlier this week, The Gazette reported new figures showing the Vic missed Government targets to deal with 95 per cent of patients in under four hours in two out of the four weeks in December, amid soaring demand, and has struggled to get extra shifts covered.

But latest figures for last week – as crisis engulfed A&Es across the country – revealed that 97 per cent of patients at Blackpool Victoria were seen within four hours, compared to a national average of 91 per cent.

It places the Vic in the top five performing A&Es in the country. And Mr Burnham praised the hard work of the staff at the hospital.

He said: “I would pay tribute to the trust here for their extraordinary efforts in what is a tough and challenging time, they are certainly bucking the trend.

“In some places, the number of patients being seen within four hours is as low as 60 per cent, the A&E crisis very much varies across the country.

“But, nationally, we are at breaking point, staff are working flat out all day, hospitals are functioning at 100 per cent.”

Labour candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood Cat Smith reiterated the shadow health minister’s caution about an upturn in care standards.

She said: “While I am delighted to hear the brilliant work from staff at Blackpool Victoria, I don’t believe that is the picture across the region.

“In my job as a social worker, I visited another local hospital and was shocked to see people stranded on five trolleys waiting to be seen, but a staff member told me that was normal.”

It comes after a spokesman for the Vic told The Gazette earlier this week the latest performance figures were down to the “tremendous hard work of our dedicated staff”.

Mr Burnham told The Gazette that Labour would invest £2.5bn a year in what is being labelled as the “Time to Care Fund”.

This would be funded through a mansion tax, a clamp-down on tax avoidance and a levy on tobacco companies.

He said: “The aim is to transform health and social care, as well as bring in another 20,000 nurses across the country, 5,000 care workers to keep people out of hospital and 3,000 midwives.

He said: “I know that the idea of a mansion tax has been greeted with some controversy but I wholeheartedly agree with the principle.

“The council tax regime has not been updated or reviewed since it was first introduced, meaning people in £2m mansions can be paying the same tax as people in their £200,000 semi-detached homes.”

Mr Burnham revealed to Labour members he was set to release details of a 10-year policy that would involve a move towards a “national health and care” service.

He said the policy would give Labour voters a reason to get behind the party, claiming it was something for them to invest in.

Mr Burnham said how he wanted to stop patients being “trapped” within hospitals, and saw a need to bring back care to their own homes.

He said: “No longer should frail or vulnerable people be shunted around the system, from ambulances to A&E to noisy wards.”