I am calling on the Government to take action now to avoid another winter crisis in the NHS in the light of data from the House of Commons Library showing Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust averaged a 94% bed occupancy from December 2016 to March 2017.
This summer the NHS and its amazing staff must be given the support needed to deliver the best possible quality of care for patients which means investment is needed now to avoid yet another winter care crisis.
By underfunding and overstretching the NHS, the Tories have pushed health services to the brink and their pre-election manifesto clearly demonstrated a failure to recognise the serious challenges facing the health service. For example, our own Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust averaged 94% bed occupancy from December 2016 to March 2017 when experts say the best practice target for safety is keeping bed occupancy below 85%.
Over that winter period just 15 trusts across England had average general and acute bed occupancy levels below the 85% recommended level. Cuts to social care have left patients stuck in hospital across the country, unable to go home for appropriate follow-up treatment, and the ‘Dementia Tax’ U-turn demonstrated the Tories’ failure to properly think through the imminent and serious challenges facing the social care system.
Labour is determined to do everything necessary to ensure our National Health Service remains world class and free at the point of use, which is why we’re calling on Theresa May to give the NHS the support and resources it urgently needs as we approach the winter months.
Prior to the general election last June NHS England’s Five Year Forward View Update noted the public are ‘concerned’ for the future of the NHS and that the health service is under ‘real pressure’ to cope with rising demand on current funding. Voters are right to be concerned as seven years of Tory neglect and underinvestment has resulted in Theresa May overseeing the worst winter crisis on record last year, putting unnecessary and completely unacceptable additional pressure on our hard working staff at our hospitals.
Labour has warned repeatedly that the NHS funding squeeze imposed by the Government is damaging standards of patient care. It’s why we offered record levels of funding for the NHS in our fully costed manifesto and guaranteed the main four hour A&E target would finally be met again consistently.
We promised to deliver record funding for the NHS with a £37 billion investment over five years, including £10bn of capital funding to make sure that NHS buildings and IT systems are fit for the modern day. We’d scrap the NHS pay cap and put pay decisions back into the hands of the Independent Pay Review Body to give NHS workers the pay they deserve, and legislating to ensure safe staffing levels in the NHS.
Labour also wants to make our children the healthiest in the world, and break the scandalous link between child ill-health and poverty. Urgent action is needed and we’re continuing to call for a sustainable funding package for health and social care, with an appropriate Brexit strategy and pay settlement for staff, to ensure our health service remains a world-class service in years to come.
It was a Labour government which founded the National Health Service, our proudest achievement, and only Labour can be trusted to ensure universal healthcare will continue to be provided for all on the basis of need, free at the point of use.