Keep Our NHS Public protest planned at Leeds General Infirmary in support of hospital workers

Hospital campaigners will stage a protest outside Leeds General Infirmary this weekend to stand up for the NHS and its staff.
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Leeds KONP (Keep Our NHS Public) has invited its supporters, members of the public, trade unionists, NHS workers and Labour Party branches to bring banners, music and speeches to the hour-long demonstration at noon on Saturday.

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They hope to call attention to the "winter crisis and ongoing serious under-funding issues" facing health services in our city, while also showing support for hardworking and committed NHS staff.

Keep Our NHS Public campaigners stage a rally at St James' Hospital in 2017. Picture: Simon HulmeKeep Our NHS Public campaigners stage a rally at St James' Hospital in 2017. Picture: Simon Hulme
Keep Our NHS Public campaigners stage a rally at St James' Hospital in 2017. Picture: Simon Hulme
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The Yorkshire Evening Post reported in November that inadequate staffing levels, risk of cyber attack and delayed waiting lists for diagnostic test referralswere just some of the ‘significant risk’ factors affecting hospitals in Leeds.

And last month, members of Leeds KONP raised questions about poor performance highlighted in NHS England data when they attended a meeting of the NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group.

Among the figures highlighted were the number of patients getting their first cancer treatment within two months of being given an urgent referral by their GP. Leeds came close to meeting the 85 per target in late 2012, but this has steadily fallen over the last three years to a figure of around 68 per cent in October 2019.

Performance has also worsened when it comes to patients starting cancer treatment within two months after having their case priority level upgraded by a consultant, spending less than four hours waiting in A&E and waiting for more than four hours on hospital trolleys.

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Campaigner John Puntis said: "The risk register gives an idea of the pressures being managed in the system at present and gives a clear impression of the hospitals being stretched to breaking point.

"The demonstration on Saturday is an opportunity for the people of Leeds to show support for staff, but also to say 'enough is enough' and call for a properly funded, publicly provided, delivered and accountable national health service."

Leeds General Infirmary is a fitting location for the protest since the campaigners also hope to challenge the Government on promises made during the General Election campaign.

The hospital found itself at the centre of election campaign debate after the YEP reported on the case of a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia who was forced to sleep on the floor due to a lack of beds.

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It prompted personal apologies to the family from both the chief executive and medical director of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and a visit by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Election pledges made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson also included 40 new hospitals, although it was later revealed funding was only allocated for six to receive building work by 2025.

Mr Puntis said: "Leeds Infirmary is one of these ‘new hospitals’ but in reality this turns out to be two new wings – one a unit for adult outpatients, intensive care and day case procedures, and the other a building to bring together current children’s beds under one roof.

"The four-year-old boy's plight highlighted in the national media was a stark reminder of chronic pressures on hospital beds. Despite an obvious shortage in Leeds, the new ‘children’s hospital’ will not increase the overall bed base, to the frustration of medical staff who grapple with the problems of bed shortages on a daily basis including frequent cancellation of elective surgery."