Friday, 6 December 2013
The News ...and sorting A+E!
I guess the news last night rather put a perspective on other new stories. Of all the tributes to Mandela, I thought Paul Boateng's was most pointed- he put Mandela's contribution into the political context. Paul was our first Black Ambassador to South Africa- his wife Janet was on the council with me and we both sat on social services. Not an easy task in Lambeth, and we both remember the momentous time Mandela came to Brixton. The crowds around and in the Recreation Centre were enormous and ecstatic and rightly so. All this reminded me of the work I, and friends did in Amnesty International (I was the Medway Towns secretary) in the late 70s and 80s supporting a group of political prisoners on Robben Island (the Pietermaritzburg 13). For those of us old enough to remember, not everyone supported the anti-apartheid struggle. But the genius of Mandela lay in his message of reconciliation. The tributes we have been listening to remind us that not all politics has to be adversarial.
This week turned frenetic. We are finally getting traction from the Department of Health on our plan for charities to help relieve pressure on A+E over the winter. I have been working on this with my colleague CEOs in the Red Cross, RVS and Age UK. It’s clear we can make a big difference in demand by building on the work that charities do in cutting admissions to hospital and securing early discharge. It’s a classic win-win. We get better care for our elderly and we get more cost effective use of hospital resources.
The plan we drew up on a request from No 10 showcased how using charities can tackle the root cause of increased demand over the winter.
We’re delighted at now getting the green light from the Secretary of State on our plans to help the elderly receive the support they need this winter. This issue is far too important to be kicked into the long grass. Getting the health service to understand the role professional charities can play has difficult, but I think we are now getting real progress.
Our members - large, professional charities and their armies of skilled volunteers - can help relieve pressure on beleaguered accident and emergency services for many winters to come. I’m looking forward to working with the health service on this; but I shall be holding their feet to the fire. Action not words is what our beneficiaries need to see.
We have had a letter from Jeremy Hunt to say he wants to support ACEVO in working our plan up into a strategic offering for all hospitals for next year. So, we are going to see how the consortia of red Cross, RVS and Age UK, working locally with other charities can galvanise volunteers and staff in an offering hospitals would be silly to refuse!