Leaders: ‘Older patients bear the brunt of these failings’

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There seems to be no end in sight for the problems facing hospital patients in the Lothians.

Record A&E waiting times – with hundreds having to wait more than 12 hours – are deeply worrying.

The spectre of elderly patients waiting for hours on end on trolleys until a bed becomes available was one of the hallmarks of the failing NHS of the 1990s. That problem is now well and truly back with us.

As is often the case, it is older patients who are once again bearing the brunt of these failings.

The difficulty is that, in the words of NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison, there is no magic wand.

It is not as simple as going out and hiring more A&E doctors and nurses.

Sure, extra funding would help, but it is only a part of the problem.

We are, for example, in the ridiculous position of people being stuck in A&E because there are no free beds on the wards they need to move on to – yet there are patients on those wards who do not need to be there, but are stuck there because of so-called bedblocking. As our Americans friends might say, go figure.

Put simply, this is a problem of our National Health Service creaking at the seams.

Steps are being taken to solve at least some of the issues. We know that plans are in the pipeline to provide 70 more beds at the ERI, for example, which will go some way to easing the pressure on A&E.

But even that relatively small step has been subject to delays and is now expected by the end of the year.

One thing is for sure, it is going to take a long, long time to cure the ills of our NHS.

Barks and bites

SETTING down some form of regulation for professional dog walkers is an interesting idea.

Limiting the number of dogs one person can have under their control certainly makes sense.

But whether the move by the city council to introduce Scotland’s first licence system will be a success 
remains to be seen.

If the only punishment for not having a licence is being told to leave a park, then you have to wonder how effective it will be.

A ticking-off from an environmental warden is hardly going to make you sign-up for public liability 
insurance.

Thankfully, incidents involving dog walkers and out-of-control pets remain rare. We are sure the vast majority of walkers already adhere to this code of conduct every day, whether they use the city’s parks or not. But if regulation really is necessary then it will have to be accompanied by a bit more bite.

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