On 4th March, local Labour Party members were among the two hundred and fifty thousand people who marched in London in defence of our proudest achievement, the NHS. These are just a few of the reasons why:
Labour in government set the standard that the NHS would see 98% of A&E patients within four hours and, with few exceptions, this standard was generally met. But when the Tories came to power, propped up by the Lib Dems in coalition, they reduced the standard to 95%. Starved of resources, unable to meet even that target, they seem to have abandoned it entirely: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told trusts they don’t have to meet the target until April 2018.
For the next year the target is effectively 90%.
Meanwhile, the target for cancer patients to receive their first definitive treatment within 62 days of initial diagnosis has been missed three years running.
Both the 18 week Referral To Treatment (RTT) target and the 8 minute ambulance response time were missed last year.
And another manifesto promise, to abolish mixed-sex hospital wards, has evaporated. In fact, the number of patients being treated in mixed-sex wards has increased this year by 50 per cent.
The current combined annual budget for health and social care in our area -- Bedford, Luton, Milton Keynes and the surrounding regions -- is £1.33 billion. Funding is expected to rise by 26%, to £1.67 billion by 2020/21. However, NHS bosses claim that, if nothing is changed. this increase will be absorbed by rising demand for services creating a deficit of £311m.
Theresa May must take notice of the problems in our NHS, and act to address them with proper funding and resources. Moving the goalposts solves nothing.