Come together to save our NHS

Posted on: 2nd January 2023

All Parties should come together to secure the long-term future of our NHS and care services.

I’m calling on those fellow politicians who truly care about what’s happening to our NHS and care services to join community leaders, health and care professionals to agree a way forward.

We cannot carry on like this. Hundreds needlessly die every week waiting for ambulances or in ambulance queues unable to get into gridlocked hospitals. These problems preceded the pandemic. Ministers cannot blame Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The problem is home grown.

This could of course have been avoided:
– if our NHS had been supported with serious workforce planning more than a decade ago when the Health Committee I served on strongly warned about the then looming crisis;
– if safe staffing standards were put in place when I and others led the campaign to support staff and protect patients with mandated staff/patient ratios;
– if the Government had supported front-line staff by rewarding them properly rather than undermining staff morale with pay cuts;
– if the evidently threadbare social care system and underpayment of care workers hadn’t been ignored; and
– if successive Governments hadn’t drastically slashed the number of hospital beds, which left most acute hospitals in perpetual and worsening bed management crisis.

The present Government has responded with largely irrelevant headline-chasing announcements about promising to build “new hospitals” or promising to invest large-sounding amounts in future years, or to recruit thousands of GPs, when their numbers have actually gone down. Whatever they’re doing, it isn’t working.

Now, those who care about a viable publicly funded and publicly-run NHS, free at the point of delivery and a properly resourced and rewarded care sector, must come together to plan a future which resolves this crisis and puts our essential services on a sound footing for the future. We have to start now, because commentators in the right-wing press are already circling to write the obituary of the NHS and propose a more insurance-based American-style system based on ability to pay.

It won’t be easy, because this Government has wasted time and set the services back a very long way. It’ll be difficult to retrieve the situation from here. But it can and must be done. I’m determined to.

Are you on board? More on this soon…