Debbie-Abrahams-WBD-102-scaled

The Challenges Facing Our NHS

My office has been inundated with messages from my constituents concerned about forthcoming operations and other treatments. I have seen for myself the immense strain being placed on our NHS staff. The hardworking Royal Oldham Hospital staff have been praised by the CQC for their care and commitment to patients in the recent inspection however, ROH staff are under a level of pressure unlike anything they have seen before, and this is impacting on care across the board despite the extra £1.9 million secured to cope with the winter workload.

The North West Ambulance Service has reported patients waiting for hours in ambulances before being seen in the Emergency Department, creating long queues outside A&E, something I witnessed myself during a recent hospital visit. For the government to defend their NHS policies over the past decade and blame its challenges on the pandemic is disingenuous to say the least.

The key issues are staff shortages – we need more clinicians and to retain the ones we currently have; insufficient beds – acute and intermediate care beds; and a social care crisis – there are insufficient care packages and care staff to safely discharge medically fit patients back into the community. Whilst NHS funding from the Government has improved recently, because of under-investment over the last 12 years, we are playing catch-up. To add to these pressures, there is also an increase in demand at the moment as a result of a surge in Covid, flu and invasive Strep A cases, and prior to that fractures from falls in the cold and icy weather.’

Data collected by the Labour Party from Freedom of Information requests made to NHS hospitals show the impact of 12 years of underinvestment in the NHS. Staff shortages were the most common reason given for cancellation of appointments and surgery by hospitals, accounting for 1 in 5 of all operations cancelled for non-clinical reasons in 2021/22.

The CQC’s report on the Royal Oldham Hospital was clear in its concern of the tremendous burden placed on already pressured staff at the hospital.

The NHS in England currently has 9,000 vacancies for doctors, with a record 133,000 total vacancies. Of the 6,000 new GPs promised by the government none have arrived in Oldham. Despite the shortages of doctors, the Conservative government this summer cut medical school places by 3,000, meaning thousands more students who want to train as Doctors are being turned away.

Labour will address staff shortages and ensure patients can get treatment when they need it by doubling the number of medical school places, training 15,000 doctors a year; training 10,000 new nurses and midwives each year. Doubling the number of district nurses qualifying every year and training 5,000 new health visitors.

The plans will be paid for by abolishing non-dom tax status, which allows residents of the UK to avoid paying taxes here.

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