The Labour Party has been critical of Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement that there will be no additional cash boost for the NHS in the Autumn Statement.
It had been hoped that the outcome of Brexit would force the government’s hand into an investment-based strategy for the healthcare system.
But Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary has opined that in the NHS is dangerously overstretched, and suggested that the government has failed to address the situation adequately.
Indeed, Ashworth argued that blame for the situation can be reasonably and primarily apportioned to the government itself, stating that the problems are of the “government’s own making”.
“The NHS is facing a funding crisis with hospitals, GP surgeries and social care dangerously overstretched Just last week we were warned the social care sector was on the verge of ‘tipping point’. One in four patients are waiting a week or more to see their GP, or not getting an appointment at all, and thousands of patients are waiting hours in A&E and hospital trolleys,” Ashworth asserted.
“The crisis is of this Government’s own making and it’s up to Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt to take action…the Tories promised during the last election they’d properly fund our NHS. This is yet another example of Tory broken promises,” Ashworth added.
Medics had already warned that critical NHS systems are close to breaking point, and that staff reductions and redundancies are on the cards if further investment is not allocated to the healthcare system.
But an NHS source close to the government told the The Guardian newspaper that there are no plans to increase funding.
“No 10’s message at the meeting was quite blunt and stark: that there will be no more money. Theresa May and Philip Hammond say that they presided over big efficiency programmes at the Home Office and MoD and didn’t whinge about it. Their view is that the NHS is already doing very well, but that’s head in the sand stuff.”
Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, has already made bleak prognostications for the prospects of the NHS this winter.
“The NHS is on its knees and, this winter, areas will implode around the country. There is no reserve left. We coined the phrase ‘eternal winter’ months ago in relation to increasingly poor performance and this data is clear evidence that is what we are now dealing with. Over the coming weeks and months, if we see a major increase in admissions due to flu or bed closures due to norovirus, we will collapse”.
Holland also characterised the attitude of the government as bordering on negligent.
“The Government has failed to acknowledge or address the scale of the crisis in social care and delayed discharges and, at present, I see no plan of action in place to prevent it derailing the health service. If we are unable to discharge patients and release pressure on our emergency departments and acute medical units at the front door, the system grinds to a halt”.
NHS trusts accrued a collective deficit of £2.5 billion during the previous financial year.