By Tommy Sheridan
Hopefully today’s atrocious set of statistics in relation to the performance of the NHS in England will prove fatal to Boris Johnson’s bid to become the elected PM of the UK. For fifteen years three key targets have been used to measure the health of the NHS. They are; a) waiting times at Accident and Emergency Departments; b) waiting times for planned and routine operations; and c) how quickly cancer patients start treatment after diagnosis. The results for October 2019 are the worst since records began and confirm what doctors, nurses, other health professionals and patient groups have been saying consistently for several years now – The world admired NHS is in crisis.
YEARS OF TORY/LIB DEM UNDERFUNDING THE NHS HAVE CAUSED CRISIS
No amount of bluster from the Blond Buffoon can cover up the reality that Tory cuts under his party in government over the last ten years has produced a health service woefully short of staff in all departments relying on outdated equipment with far too few hospital beds in wards desperate for repairs and upgrades. The funding figures are the equivalent of a criminal charge sheet which should condemn Johnson and his Tory millionaire chums to life in opposition and on the political dole queue. There is no mystery to the crisis which the NHS is now mired in. It has been caused by Tory austerity plain and simple.
Since the formation of the National Health Service in 1948 up to 2010 governments of either Tory blue or Labour red increased NHS funding in real terms every year by an average of 3.7%. Even during the extreme Thatcher years NHS funding was the one area of public service funding that was sheltered from the severe cuts her governments implemented. Since 2010 and the election of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government up to 2015 and the Cameron and May governments up to this year annual NHS funding has increased by barely one percent. From an average of almost 4% increases every year for sixty two years to only 1% increases over the last ten years. That is why the NHS is now in a critical condition.
TODAY’S STATISTICS ARE THE WORST IN THE HISTORY OF NHS
The statistics released today relate to NHS England but some of the bad news is even worse in NHS Wales. For many years NHS Scotland have out-performed both NHS England and Wales but the pressures, strains and problems are almost as severe in Scotland as they are in England and Wales. The devolved Scottish government has fought damned hard in the face of reduced central government funding to protect NHS spending in Scotland and the SNP deserve tremendous credit for their efforts but waiting times in A&E Departments, queues for routine operations and the speed of cancer treatments commencing are all under grave stress in Scotland as well.
Never forget for a moment that behind every statistic in relation to NHS waiting times and targets is a human being. Each statistic represents someone’s mum, dad, child, grandmother, grandfather, husband, wife, and friend. A person requiring some type of medical care and attention and subjected to more stress when a planned operation or procedure is cancelled or a diagnostic consultation is delayed.
ALL OF US HAVE REASON TO DEFEND AND PROMOTE THE NHS
Someone close to me is currently undergoing treatment for liver cancer. It is an incurable form of cancer but its advance can be stymied with targeted and timely treatment. Recently an essential procedure in relation to their treatment had to be cancelled only two hours before the time allocated for it to be carried out. An emergency elsewhere combined with shortages of specialist staff resulted in the cancellation. It has been rearranged but with a delay of four weeks. The stress and worry is already heightened amongst family and friends but such forced cancellations caused by staff shortages simply increase the burden.
When individuals present at an A&E Department in England they are supposed to be seen and treated or admitted to hospital within four hours of arrival. The target is that 95% of people are seen within that timescale. In the month of October only 83.6% of people were seen within four hours. That is the worst performance since records began in 2004 and the actual target has not been achieved for over 4 years. In other words this is not just a rogue set of statistics this is an NHS at breaking point.
AN 84 YEAR OLD PENSIONER LITERALLY DIED WAITING TO BE SEEN
Emma Driver was interviewed on the BBC last night about her experience with her 84 year old father. She is a former nurse and understands the pressures within hospitals but she could not hide her anger at the treatment her father received. He was kept on a hospital trolley in a corridor for over six hours before he literally slid off the trolley and died on the corridor floor. An 84 year old man was left lying on a trolley in a corridor for over six hours… That is simply shameful and appalling. Like 1 in 6 citizens of all ages and conditions who presented themselves at A&E departments in October across England Emma’s dad had to wait more than 4 hours to be seen. He had to wait over 6 hours.
Who is to blame? Not the reception staff, auxiliaries, nurses or doctors. Each and every one of them does their best in intolerably stressful conditions. It is the Tory politicians who underfunded the NHS over the last ten years while cutting taxes for the rich and powerful who are to blame, chief among them Boris Johnson.
Routine and planned operations are supposed to be carried out within an 18 week target. The figures today revealed over 672,000 people in England have been waiting in excess of 18 weeks. Life enhancing operations and procedures like hip-replacements, cataracts and varicose vein surgery are now more delayed than ever. The number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks represents the worst figures ever and the target time has not been met for over three years.
Once a person is diagnosed with cancer the NHS target is that at least 85% of those diagnosed will begin their treatment within 62 days. Barely 75% of patients had met that target in October. It is again the worst performance since such records began. The 85% target has now not been met for over four years.
BORIS JOHNSON COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT THE NHS
When Boris Johnson was presented with these shameful statistics his answer was pathetic. These figures are:
“Basically caused by the huge demand there is on the NHS.”
No shit Sherlock! It doesn’t require an expensive and exclusive private education at Eton to work that one out. People are living longer. The population is therefore aging. Of course the demands on the health service and crucially the social care and essential support and care services which keep elderly and infirm citizens out of hospitals are increasing year on year. Any fool can see that. So why the hell has the NHS and the crucial social care and support services been underfunded over the last ten years you bloody idiot? The health service is clearly not safe in Tory hands. They don’t use it. They don’t need it. They have the wealth to afford private health packages so they really couldn’t give a damn about the NHS which ordinary people so rely upon. The last 10 years of criminal underfunding has proved that fact beyond any doubt.
Over 15,000 hospital beds have been lost in the last decade and staff shortages are now ridiculous and prevent the service from working properly. Improved recruitment initiatives which include attractive incentives to encourage thousands to apply to the NHS or retrain from other professions are now urgent. Bursaries for trainee nurses and doctors and free tuition tied to retention agreements within the NHS must be rolled out with speed and intent.
HOSPITALS FULL OF IMMIGRANTS – TREATING AND CARING FOR YOU
To the racist bigots within the Tory party and beyond who try and blame immigration for NHS waiting lists and problems I challenge you to confront your obnoxious ignorance. Immigration is not the cause of the NHS crisis. Tory underfunding is the cause. When you visit any hospital you will be confronted by lots of immigrants. One will probably examine you, another will treat you and yet another will push you to a hospital bed, if any are available. It was not immigrants, or nurses, or pensioners who caused the financial crash of 2008 but all of them have been made to pay for that crash by Tory austerity cuts over the last ten years.
THE NHS CRISIS WILL GET WORSE NOT BETTER UNDER THE TORIES
What is especially worrying about today’s terrible set of NHS England statistics is they were for October. Traditionally the toughest months with the most stress and strain within the NHS are the winter months of December, January and February. In other words these damning statistics are almost definitely going to get much worse. We are in an unprecedented crisis and it is a Tory made one 100%.There is literally four weeks left to save the National Health Service. If you support that service you simply cannot cast a vote for the Tories. They have deliberately underfunded it for the last ten years to create chaos, havoc and anger. They want the NHS to become unloved so it is ripe for privatisation.
ONLY HYPOCRITES CAN VOTE TORY AND SUPPORT THE NHS
That is why it has been criminally underfunded for so long. If you are a compassionate human being who values and cherishes the NHS you are a hypocrite if you vote Tory. In Scotland those who want to save and enhance the NHS will vote SNP. In England and Wales, apart from the four Plaid Cymru seats, people of a similar view will vote Labour. The Lib Dems are partners in austerity crime with the Tories. They are the yellow Tories. Neither they nor the blue Tories can be trusted with the NHS.