Much has been said of the crisis in the NHS. As the Crawley Cabinet Member responsible for engaging with health services, the problems faced by local patients weigh heavily on my mind.
Waiting times have leapt up, with A&E struggling to meet demand and increasing numbers of operations cancelled at the last minute. The impact on those affected cannot be understated, but behind this an even bigger crisis looms.
The UK’s population is aging. It’s great that people are living longer but it does mean more people will be placing greater demands on health services for a longer time and unless the NHS changes, and Government supports that change, our National Health Service will not survive.
Crawley has a forward thinking Clinical Commission Group and we’re very happy to work with the CCG and other partners to help our local NHS evolve into a more preventative, locally-focused model which should not only help maintain the service but enable people to remain happier and healthier for much longer.
Yet, while the role of local providers in creating the new NHS is going to be crucial, we cannot save the service without action nationally. Instead of bashing the NHS, as the Government has done, we need a Government alive to the threat faced by the NHS and determined to save it.
Last week Labour announced their third major General Election pledge: to build an NHS with time to care, backed up by a ten-year plan investing in staff, integrating care from home to hospital, giving patients new rights to access care, ending the neglect of mental health, preventing ill-health and restoring the right values to the NHS.
Obviously all of this has to be paid for and Labour is working hard to ensure every commitment is fully funded, in this case through a combination of clamping down on tax avoidance, a mansion tax and introducing new fees on tobacco companies—ensuring they help to pay for the cost of smoking-related illnesses.
The NHS is a service worth saving and it’s vital Government acts now to fulfil this responsibility to their citizens.