The government has warned of widespread disruption within the health service as patients threatened to stage a walk out following a ongoing dispute over food standards, infection control, waiting times and the failure to ensure the reaching of a pensionable age.
There had been hope that a resolution had been reached after the Andrew Lansley met with officials of “Patience”, the NHS patients’ union to discuss revised plans to reduce standards of care due to economic pressures.
However, matters escalated when the leader of Patience, Reginald Taylor, a 62 year old with final stage heart failure and concurrent COPD, expressed the union’s disappointment at the renewed proposals and promised action:
“We feel that raising the standard of offal in hospital food and reducing the pensionable age for those who are seriously unwell are rather missing the point.Therefore, we are going on strike on Wednesday. We will no longer be patients and will refuse all medical treatment until our cause is heard. I mean, with waiting times like this, what harm is there in an extra day?!”
Mr Lansley has appealed for union leaders to end the strike plans or face the withdrawal of the improved offer. It has also been met with anger from Unison, who were hoping to strike themselves over changes to public sector pensions.
Chris Remington, UNISON regional manager in London, called the patient strikes “a disgrace” and branded Patience leaders “selfish and irresponsible”:
“How on earth are we meant to force the government into making concessions when our leverage is out on the picket line too?”, he continued. “These so-called “patients” have no idea of the disruption they are causing; there go my retirement plans!”
Health officials are considering drafting in volunteers to fill the hospital beds to minimise the impact upon NHS workers and Unison have supported the move as it gives them something to use for their own gain.
The plans, however, have been met with derision by Patience leaders who reiterated their intent to make a stand:
“I suppose it makes no difference if they draft anyone in. I mean they won’t be getting treated anyway! But we will not cave,” stated Mr. Taylor. “They can take this pacemaker from my cold dead.......”