“The NHS is safe in our hands.”
Remember that quote from David Cameron? Twelve years on and the current crisis in Emergency care is anything but safe. Seeing long lines of ambulances unable to deliver their patients to hospital is shocking. Harm is undoubtedly being caused to patients and staff, and I lay the blame for this harm firmly at the door of the Conservative government with its policies of cuts and privatisation across the public sector.
The solution to this crisis?
Firstly, Sunak’s government must recognise there is a national emergency and meet with Health workers and unions to discuss what can be done.
Secondly, we desperately need more social care provision. Beds should be requisitioned from the private sector and carers paid a decent wage.
In addition, nurses, doctors and other NHS staff must have a pay rise of at least the rate of inflation. This will help to recruit and retain much needed staff. Currently there are hundreds of thousands of vacancies across the NHS and Social Care.
Even Jeremy Hunt recognises the crisis in recruitment, training and retention of staff. In July 2022 he chaired a House of Commons committee which reported “The persistent understaffing of the NHS now poses a serious risk to staff and patient safety both for routine and emergency care. It also costs more as patients present later with more serious illness. But most depressing for many on the frontline is the absence of any credible strategy to address it. It is time to stop photographing the problem and deal with it.”
Readers can download the report “Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care” from the House of commons website.
Why isn’t the chancellor putting his money where his mouth is by funding a decent pay rise for NHS staff? He could cancel car parking charges immediately. He could cancel tuition fees for students training to be nurses. He could ensure the recommendations in the above report he and other MPs have agreed to print, are met in full.
The money is there. Here’s one suggestion. We have just heard from a recent Oxfam study that the UK’s richest 685,500 people are worth £2.8 trillion. Taxing this staggering wealth at a mere 10% would raise £280 billion. This, and many other ways of taxing those with the broadest shoulders, can solve the crisis of chronic understaffing in the NHS.
All that’s needed is the political will. The political will to have a health service that is fully staffed.