When Emergency Care System Falls Down At Weekends
Cllr Ranjit Gill on his recent personal experience of inadequacies in the local system
It’s once again my opportunity to write this week’s blog and my first for the New Year. So, what have I been up to and which direction are we heading towards?
Before the general election we were planning to hold our third public meeting on crime and the future of policing in Chiswick. There had been a sudden spate of incidents and we knew we needed to act and fast. The first public meeting enabled residents to voice their concerns. The second public meeting informed us about police action taken. A third was promised to reassure us that action had been effective for the longer term. The most recent police report, provided at this week’s Chiswick Area Forum, confirmed that crime is down throughout Chiswick. No knife crime had been reported in the last three months. Sadly, that same Tuesday evening, as the meeting was taking place, a 19-year-old was stabbed in Kingsley Road, Hounslow. He took himself to hospital where he remains in a critical condition. Police reported that a man in his early 20s has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. We pray for the victim’s health and wish him a speedy recovery.
I wrote to the Tri-Borough Commander in late January and await a response. Information about the date and time of this much anticipated police meeting will be published soon and please kindly make sure you secure your place by booking through Eventbrite, as before. Booking is only so we can manage numbers. Attendance will, as before, be free.
75th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ
Monday, 27th January marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Working for an orthodox Jewish firm of accountants for most of my working life, I am supremely aware of the importance of this day. I met one of the survivors of Auschwitz, a client, who had his number on his forearm. When you meet someone with a number tattooed on their arm you never forget, and we must never forget.
THE MODERN LEGACY OF GURU GOBIND SINGH, 1666-1708
For all Sikhs, of which I am one, 5th January is an important date. Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the 10 Sikh gurus, transformed the Sikh faith. The Khalsa (meaning pure) was created, a community of the faithful who were visible symbols of their faith and trained as warriors. Today the Khalsa comprises all practising Sikhs.
At age nine, Guru Gobind Singh succeeded his father Guru Tegh Bahadur (the 9th guru) and his teachings were different from the previous gurus. He believed that no power could exploit the Sikhs. His mission was to uphold right in every place and destroy sin and evil. He also introduced many of the customs we Sikhs practise today. Sikhs took new names. All males carry the name ‘Singh’, meaning lion, and females carry the name ‘Kaur’, meaning princess. Sikhs wear the five Ks, physical symbols of the faith; they are Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaacha (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (a steel sword).
Guru Gobind also declared that the Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh holy book – would be his successor instead of a human being. The Guru Granth Sahib would be the Sikhs’ guide forever.
Today we celebrate his life with prayers at the Gurdwaras. As normal, there is always breakfast, morning coffee/tea and snacks, lunch, afternoon tea and snacks plus dinner available to everyone coming to the Gurdwara. I also read that the Sikh community in Australia contributed free food for all during the recent fires. Nearer home, as per the Sikh Community Facebook page, the Sikh community has started feeding the homeless. I am very pleased to hear this.
TO CARE OR NOT TO CARE?
Councillors are asked to intervene in all kinds of situations. Sometimes, our personal experience exposes shortcomings, as happened when I recently went to the urgent care centre at the West Mid Hospital. Without going into the details, I was admitted to AMU (Acute Medical Unit). My concern was not for me but for Peter, my partner, who has early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, as he was alone at home and I needed him to have food, water and medication. Luckily friends who live a few roads away from us were able that afternoon to pop in to feed Peter, and check that our animals were also ok for food and water. They couldn’t help beyond that.
We have the council LinkLine service for emergencies so, of course, I rang to activate it and was told social services would respond. After what seemed like ages sitting in a hospital bed, Mr A called so I explained in detail what I had arranged and what was needed, from breakfast the following day including care during the day and that I could be in hospital for two nights.
Fortunately, I was released early the next morning and was able to get home to look after Peter. Around mid-morning I had a call from Mr B asking how he could help as he had taken over from Mr A. I explained he was supposed to be at my house looking after Peter and giving him breakfast, as per my instructions to Mr A. He replied that emergency care only works Monday to Friday as there is no one available at the weekend. This was totally contrary to the information I had been given, and what was displayed on our key chain and fridge, that there were no restrictions on when emergency care would be provided.
My immediate response was to ask if Mr B was trying to tell me that no accident or emergency should happen at a weekend. In which case, what was the point of the key chain and sticker on my fridge? I said this was unacceptable, not just for my partner but for all the residents of the borough – it was not acceptable by anyone's standard.
He said the words had come out wrong and explained that they just do not have people to provide the service at weekends. This was for a vulnerable adult who needs care. Who would look after such an individual when the main carer is ill and in hospital?
I must say I was amazed by this response and I found it unacceptable, as a resident of Hounslow. We cannot plan not to be ill or have an accident at a weekend if it does not suit the requirements of the borough. Illness does not know if it’s the weekday or the weekend.
As a councillor, I didn’t feel I should take up my own case as I did not want to be considered to be taking advantage of my position – I was, and am still, very concerned about the care provided to all residents of Hounslow at their time of need, not just for my partner but for all our residents. The pain and anguish caused is just not acceptable. It was SHOCKING. So Cllr Biddolph took it up on my behalf with the lead member for adult social services.
The initial response was not acceptable and I made that clear to the author of the letter I received. The next morning I had an unreserved apology from the author of the letter, but I am still awaiting the outcome as to why the promised service did not materialise. If anyone else has received a similar response using the LinkLine service, or any other inadequate response, please let me know. We must have a service that works for all residents who need it.
Care invoicing irregularities
To make matters worse, I have twice now received invoices for care for the wrong amount. I’m an accountant. Nothing gets paid without me checking what I’m paying for. But many residents will either not be well enough to check, or might be reluctant to challenge incorrect bills, or be too tired of repeatedly correcting log book entries – the effort being one step too far. Indeed, one of the first issues raised with us when we were new councillors was from a resident who had repeatedly been billed for the wrong amount. Her queries were challenged, as was her memory of how much care was given. There was nothing wrong with her memory. The invoices were wrong.
If this has happened to you, or someone you know, please get in touch. I am determined to make sure that residents are not overcharged and, equally, that Hounslow is not overcharged when the invoice is for care provided on its behalf to residents.
I am always busy with casework and am happy to deal with as many cases that come my way as we were elected to represent the residents of this borough. I usually respond the same day or the next day. Besides the weekly Chiswick Library surgery, Cllr Biddolph and I do an additional surgery every first Saturday of the month in the Gunnersbury Park Garden Estate where residents feel somewhat cut off from Chiswick. Details of all our surgeries are listed below.
Casework has been varied from dealing with floods in Fishers Lane, to residents complaining about the lack of support and remedial works to council owned properties, drug issues on our streets, planning issues, litter, etc. If it bothers you, it bothers us.
NEXT BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING: TUESDAY, 25th FEBRUARY
This should be an excellent meeting as the council will present its budget for the financial year ahead. Council Tax is set to rise by 3.99%. All householders will be paying extra. Cllr MacGregor is working, on behalf of our group, on presenting our alternative budget.
DATES FOR DIARIES
Borough council: Tuesday, 25th February, 7.30pm at Hounslow House
Surgeries- Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library, upstairs in the private room.
Gunnersbury: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Triangle Club, The Ridgeway, W3 8LN, usually a group discussion but privacy can be arranged.
Councillor Ranjit Gill
Turnham Green ward
February 8, 2020