NHS figures show that bed blocking is up 52% in the three years to mid-2017. We imagine, right now, you are wondering where we’re going with this.
Bed blocking is the term used to describe people kept in a bed in hospital that could be used for somebody else – often somebody else acutely ill. The derogatory name implies that the patient shouldn’t be there. Explanations of bed blocking are often used as a political stick to beat someone with; the paperwork necessary to discharge a patient isn’t done, social care in the community isn’t available to receive the patient.
The truth is somewhat less simplistic. A significant proportion of patients come into hospital to be treated for one thing, and while they are in-patients other ailments and underlying causes are discovered that the hospital must treat before they may discharge the patient.
There is a parallel to be drawn with veterans.
Increasingly, we are seeing – or perhaps veterans are more vocal than before – veterans coming forward with an issue that is ruining their life; homelessness, lack of work, mental health issues and so on. All too often this is at a time when, having given so much for their country and its citizens, they should be feeling the benefits and enjoying a more relaxed life.
We are finding that, as with bed blocking, there is seldom a single issue that is wrong – it is multiple things. Mental health issues lead to employment problems, which lead to homelessness, which lead to addiction problems. The issues spiral downward. And yet this is a disproportionately high-achieving group; over 75% of the ex-forces personnel we know own a business or enterprise.
There’s another telling statistic to share: the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union has just over 82,000 members – the exact same size as the target for the British Army. Here is why it is important; the starting salary for a firefighter in the UK is £22,017, for a Police officer – £22,962, for a nurse £22,168. For a train driver, the average salary is £47,101.
Think what you will about unions in Britain, but what is undeniable is that the RMT is exceptionally effective at getting results for its members. They work to achieve one single goal and fight to get it. Sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it?
To be able to defeat the multiple, and often interlinked issues that face veterans today, we need to band together. There are hundreds of thousands of us and with a single voice, we can push the agenda forward to protect those that were the protectors.