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The Buzz > NHS could face "state of permanent crisis" after coronavirus without health charities

NHS could face "state of permanent crisis" after coronavirus without health charities

Robert Baldock Hospital to Home NHS charities

As Scotland’s largest charity supporting the NHS to care for people with chest, heart and stroke conditions – including Covid-19 – we're calling for the Scottish Government to set out a long-term survival package and strategy for health charities. 

Without health charities in Scotland easing pressures on the NHS, there could be a “permanent state of crisis” as services cope with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Unless there is support from the third sector, the NHS and Social Care services will be under considerable pressure post-Covid for months, probably years to come.

Easing pressure on the NHS

This pressure comes in several forms, including a significant backlog of cancelled operations and procedures, and patients continuing to need treatment for Covid-19 until a vaccine is found. Services will also need to contend with regular winter pressures and Covid-19 during the winter of 2020. Over time, A&E attendances will also begin to increase to pre-Covid levels, requiring capacity that was already under pressure before the pandemic.  

"We have the expertise and support available to help the NHS and Health and Social Care services as they continue to deal with the impact of Covid-19. However, without a joined-up approach between NHS, Social Care and the third sector, essential services and staff could face a permanent state of crisis," explains Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. This could risk patient and staff safety as well as morale.

Many charities, including ourselves, are fighting for survival due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We're currently losing £500,000 a month in fundraising income with our shops closed and fundraising events cancelled. Without government support, we may not be here to deliver our essential services.

Hospital to Home

Our Hospital to Home service provides vital support to patients living with chest, heart and stroke conditions – including Covid-19 – as they return home from hospital and back into the community. The service equips people with the tools and support they need to live well at home and in the community thus reducing hospital readmissions and pressures on the NHS. 

For years, we have been operating our Hospital to Home service for stroke survivors in four health boards and a partial service in a further six. More recently, the Scottish Government funded IT costs for the service to extend support to people with lung conditions – including Covid-19. And working in partnership with NHS Highland the charity has also implemented a Hospital to Home service for people living with heart conditions.

"We need the Scottish Government to take the lead on this" adds Judson. "They have shown commitment to helping charities and services step up during the pandemic. We now need to see a strategy and package of support to make sure health charities are still around to ease pressures on the NHS for the longer term."

Charities like ours are standing shoulder to shoulder with our NHS heroes throughout this pandemic – and we want to keep doing that in the future.

We now want to expand this service across all 14 health boards, using our expert nurses and Community Support teams to protect NHS and Social Care capacity to deal with more complex cases. This approach will free up capacity and provide a better care experience for people across Scotland. We estimate the service will benefit around 37,900 people discharged with chest, heart and stroke conditions each year - helping up to 100,000 people if the wider impact on family and carers is taken into account.

 "People with chest, heart and stroke conditions tell us that the period returning home from hospital is the most fragile time in their recovery – both physically and mentally," adds Judson. "The work of charities like ours makes that transition easier. Without that support, more people will end up back at the hospital door needing more serious treatment."

Life-changing support

Robert Baldock, 55 from East Lothian, knows first-hand the huge difference that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s services can make after he suffered a life-changing stroke in 2017. It took his ability to talk and move easily. The help Robert received from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland has been vital in helping him rebuild his life and gain independence.

Robert Baldock Hospital to Home NHS charities

Robert Baldock's life changed forever after his stroke.

"My life completely changed after my stroke," explains Robert. "I now live with acute dysphasia (I know what I want to say but have difficulty at times finding the words) and severe verbal dyspraxia (when the words are there but I have difficulty motor planning to create the appropriate sounds). All of this makes communicating especially difficult.

"Often, it’s easier for me to draw or write a reply. Not being able to talk or make myself understood has been so very difficult to adjust to. This combined with limited mobility and not being able to drive have been extremely hard things to deal with and accept.

"Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland provided vital help at a time I needed it most. They have made a huge impact on my post-stroke life. The volunteer from the charity, Fiona, has been a great source of information, friendship and support. Being around people with shared experiences, who know and understand what you are going through has been a massive benefit. Aphasia and dyspraxia are hugely isolating conditions. 

"The charity’s services have helped to keep me connected in both group settings and with one-to-one speech and language support, providing me with a dedicated stroke nurse who visited me monthly. With their support I have found out about and been able to buy communication apps which allow me to express myself.

"I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, they played such a huge part in my recovery and I would not be where I am today without their help."

To find out more about how our Hospital to Home service is relieving pressure on the NHS, please visit: chss.org.uk/coronavirus/hospital-to-home

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