There continues to be a high level of concern in Lewisham Deptford over the state of our health service as we approach the Autumn Budget.
A recent 38 Degrees report revealed that cuts were made or threatened to at least 70 frontline NHS services between June and October 2017, which include A&Es, GP surgeries and maternity units.
As a result, A&Es suffer overcrowding, waiting lists for operations are ever-increasing, and the rationing of services has also become widespread, with 90% of CCGs not offering the recommended three cycles of IVF treatment. Many doctors also claim that funding pressures have restricted their ability to prescribe medicines.
Unsurprisingly, the NHS in England missed every one of its monthly targets in 2016/17, whilst in 2012-13, it met its targets 86% of the time.
Despite a personal commitment by Prime Minister Theresa May to invest in mental health services, at least seven mental health facilities across England have been under threat in just four months.
Amidst this crisis, rather than increase funding for our NHS, the Government have tried to covertly extend cuts through the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP), which I wrote about previously here.
The chief executive of NHS England has warned that unless the NHS is provided with more funding, waiting lists will climb further to 5 million, and the 18 week referral target will potentially be permanently abandoned. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has also found an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving the professions, threatening patient care. Nurses have suffered a 14% real-terms pay cut since 2010, and the Government's decision to scrap student nurse bursaries has led to a fall in numbers on nursing degrees.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto pledging to scrap the NHS pay cap and properly fund our health service with an additional £30 billion over the course of the parliament. The manifesto also pledged to guarantee access to treatments within 18 weeks, maintain the 4-hour A&E target, and take one million people off NHS waiting lists by 2022.
I and the Labour party will pressure the Chancellor to use his Autumn Budget to come up with a sustainable long-term plan for the NHS which deals with the staffing crisis and gives the NHS the funding it desperately needs.