A Patients Association report shows that the number of people waiting for surgery for over 18 weeks is up by almost 80% on the previous year. As a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, a former Primary Care Trust Chair and a former member of Labour’s Shadow Health Team, I believe the Tories are bleeding the NHS dry as shown by report after report in the last few weeks.
The Patients’ Association and their members should be congratulated for highlighting issues in patient waiting times for key elective procedures such as cataracts, hip or knee replacements, and the inequalities in these waiting times across the country. We need to understand the reasons for the clear differences between the waiting time data they have collected and the waiting time figures that the Government uses.
Most worrying is evidence of rationing, delaying treatments with changes to treatment protocols. This is going to back to the 1990s when I first started working in the NHS.
Behind these statistics are real people forced to put their life on hold by these delays with many likely to suffer psychological distress, pain and the financial burden of not being able to work. And people aren’t stupid. They know the safety risks of waiting too long for surgery.
Many of those interviewed for this Patients Association report spoke about the concern they feel that their surgery will end up being more intrusive and probably have a longer recovery time as a result of excessive waiting times.
Timely access to high quality compassionate care must remain a key priority for the NHS despite financial pressures. But the Tories have allowed hospitals to become understaffed and created a financial crisis which is yet more proof they can’t be trusted with the NHS.
Labour will always stand up for the NHS, tackling staff shortages and underfunding that are at the root of this Tory created crisis.