On Tuesday (7th January) I was selected to ask a Topical Question to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Throughout the Christmas period, stories were reported from across the country about the current difficulties A&E is facing.
A&E is like a barometer for the NHS as a whole. It acts as an ‘early warning system’ for any problems in the NHS. For many people it is their port of call when problems occur in other parts of the system.
Ministers have repeatedly denied there is an A&E crisis but in the last 12 months, over a million people have waited more than four hours in A&E.
Under this Government we have seen:
- £3 billion wasted and chaos caused with a top-down reorganisation that nobody wanted and nobody voted for. 6,642 nurses have been lost from the NHS since David Cameron became Prime Minister;
- It’s now harder to get a GP appointment after the Government scrapped Labour’s guarantee of an appointment within 48 hours and cut Labour’s extended opening hours scheme. This is a major cause of the A&E crisis and why we are calling on the Government make it easier for people to see their family doctor this winter; and
- Cuts to elderly care have also increased the pressure on the NHS – fewer older people are getting the care they need at home, so more are admitted to hospital and it’s harder to discharge them back home because it’s not safe.
The staff at the Royal Oldham Hospital work hard to deliver good quality emergency care, often in difficult circumstances as I saw for myself when I visited last month, just before Christmas.
I asked Nick Clegg why he and his party supported the Government in their disastrous reorganisation. The full text of my question is below and the full exchange can be read here.
“A and E departments across the country are in crisis, despite the valiant efforts of NHS staff, including staff at Royal Oldham hospital in my area. The cuts to social care mean that there is often insufficient support in the community to allow patients to be discharged from hospital safely, and beds are blocked as a result. Why did the Deputy Prime Minister support his coalition partners in the £3 billion top-down reorganisation and the £1.8 million cuts to social care when these things were predicted?”