I’ve recently received a large number of emails from constituents about the Government’s mandate to NHS England for 2018-19, confirming that waiting time targets for planned and emergency care have been abandoned for another year.
Almost 8 years of austerity has left our NHS underfunded, understaffed and underprepared for the rise in demand this winter.
Figures published by NHS England recorded the worst ever A&E performance this winter as departments nationwide are under relentless pressure, with over 1,000 patients being stuck on trolleys for over 12 hours, ambulance waits reaching record levels and a 515% increase in patients waiting over 4 hours, compared with 2011.
As rightfully stated by the Chief Executive of the Patients Association (Rachel Power) “the risks for patient safety and poorer outcomes is completely needless, and unacceptable in a wealthy nation”.
It is extremely worrying that the Government’s NHS mandate issues no objective for the 18 week referral to treatment target nor the 4 hour A&E target to be met during the year and is a clear indication by Ministers that they are failing to properly fund and resource our NHS.
I believe this is highly disappointing given hospital bosses’ efforts to achieve our standards by the late 2000s and signals an erosion of progress made.
Moreover, as stated by our Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathon Ashworth, “fundamentally it risks the very future of our universal health system if it means forcing more to reluctantly flee the NHS for private provision instead”.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged an additional £45 billion to the NHS and social care system. The manifesto also outlined a long-term workforce plan to ensure safe staffing levels and give staff the support they need. I believe this would have prevented the plight of the NHS today and guaranteed the 4 hour A&E target.
I can assure you that I and my Labour colleagues will continue to fight for our NHS and press the Government to provide the funding it urgently requires to ensure patient care is not compromised and our health system remains world-class.