Richmond Park News: 6 January 2023
Constituents will have seen news headlines about the difficulties the NHS is experiencing in managing the overwhelming demand for services, especially emergency care services, in the last few weeks. I'm grateful to Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of Kingston Hospital and Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare, and to Bill Oldfield, Chief Medical Officer of Kingston Hospital for taking time out of their extremely busy schedules yesterday to give me an update on the situation in the local area.
Kingston Hospital A&E is experiencing exceptionally high demand at the current time. This is due to the increase in demand that we always see at this time of year, but exacerbated by an increase in the normal number of cases of seasonal flu. This increase in cases is mostly due to lowered immunity after two years of lockdown shielded us from exposure to new strains of the flu virus. High demand for A&E services is also resulting from difficulties some constituents are experiencing in getting appointments with their GP.
I would ask all constituents to consider the following:
Please get your seasonal flu jab if you haven't already - especially if you are in a vulnerable group. Information about the flu jab, including where you can get one, can be found here.
Please seek timely medical attention. A&E admissions are being boosted by people who waited to seek medical attention until their symptoms became critical.
Carefully consider the most suitable service for you to go to with a less-serious injury or illness. This may be your GP, a pharmacist or a minor injuries unit rather than A&E. If you aren't sure where to go, you can call 111 at any time for advice, or click here to see the options explained.
I want to pay tribute to the incredibly hard work of all our health service staff. The pressures that the service are currently under are largely the result of systemic issues that need a long term plan from the government in order to address. The Liberal Democrats are pressing for action to recruit new GPs, invest in hospital buildings and boost funding for social care to enable hospitals to make prompt discharges. We had also called for Parliament to be recalled this week so that the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health could report to MPs on their plans for addressing the current crisis. So far this week, they've had very little to say about what they plan to do.
I received the following message about local London Ambulance Service and Community First Responders from a constituent this week: "With the recent strikes and extra demand on the London Ambulance Service, I wanted to say how amazing they are doing. I had to contact them for my child on Christmas Day, and again on New Year's Eve for an elderly gentleman who collapsed in the street. For my child the ambulance arrived in 20 minutes. The second incident they came within four minutes! A first responder vehicle also arrived within about six minutes. Really incredible staff we have working on our London ambulance service!"
I will be tabling an Early Day Motion when Parliament returns next week to express the gratitude we all feel towards our health and social care staff, and to those who take on unpaid caring responsibilities at home, for keeping our hospital and community care services going during difficult times.
DISRUPTION TO RAIL SERVICES
This week, many stations across the constituency have been closed, including Mortlake, North Sheen, Richmond, New Malden and Kingston. Barnes Bridge and Barnes remained open with limited service. Full information on SWR services during strike action and rationale behind station closures is available here.
The latest round of national strike action on the railways will come to an end on Saturday 7th January. On Sunday 8th January, normal weekend services will resume but start slightly later than usual with the first trains departing from around 7.30am. District Line service on the Underground will also be suspended between Richmond and Turnham Green tomorrow, Saturday January 7.
There is no strike action planned for next week. Constituents are still advised to check your route before you travel using SWR’s journey planner, which can be accessed here.
I understand how frustrating this continued disruption is. I met with SWR just before Christmas to discuss their limited service offer and to relay constituent’s concerns. I remain in regular communication with SWR and I will continue to relay any further updates and information that I receive.