We celebrated the 70th birthday of our NHS a year ago

Posted on: 18th July 2019

We celebrated the 70th birthday of our NHS a year ago. At the time, health campaigners like me also pointed out the NHS was more debt-ridden, under-staffed and crisis-managed than at any time in its history.

To deflect criticism the PM, Theresa May, announced £billions more for the service. The media were immediately taken in and failed to read the small print. The extra money wasn’t going to arrive straight away. In fact it wasn’t even enough to pay off the debts. And she didn’t actually know where the money was going to come from!

Now, one year on, the debts remain – Cornwall about £100 million in debt – under-staffing persists – record nurse shortages across the whole service – and our main hospital remains perpetually on the edge of crisis – again last week declaring a “critical incident”, unable to cope with the volume of emergencies, ambulances queuing, patients treated in corridors.

I ask heroic staff and managers when the promised extra £billions will arrive? A year on, they’ve been told nothing. But still Ministers trot out to re-announce the largess.

Meanwhile the Conservatives are being consumed by a Brexit monster of their own making. Parliament is paralysed. Government Ministers want to sound decisive. But none have a clue how to get out of the chaos they’ve created.

So vitally important services like our NHS have been left to work it out on their own with the same threadbare resources and promises of jam tomorrow.

For me the answer’s simple. Get politics out of the NHS. Stop the Conservatives opening up the easy bits to be cherry-picked by profit-making private companies. And, if necessary, increase taxation, especially on the basis of ability to pay, to give the NHS the funding it needs. Last year we called for 20% more by 2020. That is still the amount needed but the Government is giving it crumbs.