Emma met with Unions Together in Parliament this week to show her support for their campaign to save the NHS. The campaign warns that the NHS can’t survive five more years of David Cameron, and that the Tories’ privatisation agenda and increasing pressure on services are threatening the future of the health service. With fewer than 100 days to go to the general election, the campaign says that the outcome could be crucial for the NHS.
This winter showed the scale of the crisis facing the NHS under David Cameron. Hospital A&E departments were stretched to breaking point, while ambulance services were unable to cope with demand. In South Shields an 80 year-old woman lay on the floor for five hours with a fractured back before an ambulance came to collect her. At South Tyneside Hospital more than one in five patients had to wait four hours or more to be seen at A&E.
NHS staff are doing everything they can, but after five years of neglect by the Tory-led Government the health service is struggling to meet demand. Things have not been helped by the Government’s unwanted reorganisation of the NHS, which wasted £3 billion that could have been spent on patient care.
The Government’s reforms also expanded competition in the NHS, allowing the private sector to take over more aspects of the health service. The process also wastes millions of pounds each year on tendering exercises and competition lawyers.
Labour has made saving the NHS a key commitment, and yesterday (Tuesday 27 January) the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP set out a ten year plan for the health service.
Labour has already pledged a new £2.5 billion Time to Care Fund which will pay for 20,000 extra nurses, 8,000 additional GPs, and 5,000 new care workers. Under Labour there would also be greater integration of health and care services, creating a joined up system where people can receive better care in their home and so avoid costly hospital visits. The system will not only improve care services, but it will save money by using resources more effectively.
Labour would also reverse the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to roll back the Coalition’s reforms and guarantee that the NHS puts patients before profits. Labour’s proposals were introduced into Parliament by the Labour MP Clive Efford last year, when Emma spoke and voted in support of the Bill.
Emma also challenged the Prime Minister over the threat to local services, warning that the closure of Jarrow Walk-in Centre would put even more pressure on South Tyneside Hospital.
“The last five years have shown that the Tories can’t be trusted with our NHS. David Cameron promised he would protect the health service, but he has broken that promise, and we are seeing the results with this winter’s A&E crisis.
“The NHS is one of our proudest achievements as a country, and I and other Labour MPs want to do everything in our power to save it. That’s why I’m backing Unions Together’s campaign to Save Our NHS.”