POhWER, which is the largest advocacy charity in the UK, has welcomed the acknowledgement in the Public Accounts Committee cross-party report into waiting times that the NHS was under-resourced and under-funded even before the pandemic hit.
POhWER helps people who because of disability, social exclusion, illness or other challenges often find it hard to access the support they need or make their views heard.
The charity, which contributed evidence to the report, says that an over-stretched and under-resourced NHS makes it even harder for its beneficiaries to get the help they need, putting them at a ‘double disadvantage’.
And it says that while the PAC Report highlights geographic disparities, other variances of access exist too – and it is much easier for some people to work out how to navigate their way through the health and care system and multitude of services and providers than others.
Chief Executive Helen Moulinos said:
“We welcome the report and its acknowledgement that there are some severe challenges in the NHS that need to be addressed. In the rush to sort out waiting times we must not continue to ignore the people who were already being ignored before the pandemic. We at POhWER can clearly see that some significant rights and entitlements are being ignored or playing second fiddle as they are seen as less of a priority. We are tired of seeing the people we help being put in the ‘too hard’ or ‘too difficult to sort right now’ box just because their needs are different or take more time. It’s important we push for real change now when significant investment is about to come into the NHS – otherwise, our worry is that it might never happen at all and more people won’t get the care they need and are entitled to as a result.”
Last year POhWER supported a total of 6,789 NHS complaints issues across the UK, as well as helping people get the support they need. Its Advocates supported people with an array of free and confidential services including:
- Information about how to complain, including who to complain to
- Explaining the complaints process and options at each stage
- Helping beneficiaries to write letters
- Helping beneficiaries to prepare for complaint meetings and attending with them
- Helping beneficiaries to refer a complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman if they are not happy with the response they receive from the NHS service
- Signposting beneficiaries to other organisations which can help them if POhWER can’t