18th July 2022
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has challenged the Health Secretary on why frontline NHS workers are being forced to bear the brunt of an unprecedented summer crisis while the Government drags its heels.
Heart attack patients in Shropshire are now facing waits of several hours for ambulances as emergency care reached the brink of collapse even before this week’s heatwave added extra pressure.
Helen confronted Steve Barclay in the Commons after being updated on the situation in Shropshire by local NHS leaders at the latest urgent care summit.
The regular briefing was set up earlier this year as health bosses in Shropshire attempt to find ways to deal with the critical issues which have led to life-threatening delays for ambulances, A&E and cancer treatment in the county.
The Lib Dem MP revealed that she now fears there are no solutions available locally despite the huge amounts of hard work being put in by frontline medics and carers, as well as managers co-ordinating the different sectors.
Figures show that ambulance response times, hospital handover delays and waits at A&E are all at their worst-ever levels despite demand for emergency care now having returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Indeed, serving cabinet member and candidate to be the next Prime Minister Liz Truss admitted in a Conservative leadership debate that ambulance delays in rural areas are “appalling”.
One factor affecting this is a lack of capacity in social care, where there is a major shortage of staff. Recruiting and retaining staff in the NHS has also been a major problem in Shropshire with around 10 per cent of roles still vacant at the county’s two major hospitals.
Addressing the Health Secretary, Helen Morgan MP said: “The team are working hard to find solutions but I did not feel reassured that they have any quick fixes available for the crisis that we’re seeing at the moment.
“One of the big problems they have is in recruiting social care workers and described the situation as having never seen a market like it.
“What’s he doing to address this critical workforce problem that we’re seeing not only in rural areas but across the country?”
Helen has campaigned tenaciously on the issue since being elected to represent North Shropshire in December. She has held her own debate on ambulance response times in the House of Commons, worked with the previous Health Secretary and regularly co-ordinates with local and regional health leaders.
She is calling for the CQC to conduct an independent inquiry into the health crisis in Shropshire to help address the root causes which vary from a lack of GP and social care capacity to bed-blocking in hospitals and difficulties retaining doctors.