There is a crisis within the NHS in London, with many hospitals and services falling behind national standards for treatment and response times. At Guy’s Hospital, which is a world class institution, 14% of patients with suspected cancer are not seen by a specialist within the 14 day stipulated timeframe. Within the space of 3 months, 303 last minute elective operations were cancelled at King’s College Hospital for non-clinical reasons and 14% of patients were not seen within the four hour timeframe set from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge. Local people need to know that the NHS is there for them when needed and I am worried at the damage the Government is doing to the local NHS’s ability to meet the needs we face here in Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
The failures of the NHS are not due to the staff – nurses, doctors, and employees consistently work tirelessly for the benefit of patients. In many cases, the workforce have seen salaries frozen or only marginally uplifted for years and we have witnessed the imposition of a contract for junior doctors which is opposed by their representative organisations, including the BMA. Junior doctors have been forced into striking as a result – with regular pickets outside St Thomas’ Hospital with widespread public support. We’ve also seen local student nurses hit with maintenance grants turned into loans – with some now facing debts of £64,000 by the time they complete their studies. This acts as a deterrent to people taking up the courses at a time the Government acknowledges there is a shortfall of nurses in the NHS across the country.
Despite claiming to ‘ring-fence’ funding for the NHS, resources remain incredibly tight. But we have a growing population locally, with more people needing high quality healthcare. We also witness the same shift in demographics experienced nationally, with an ageing population and the additional health problems that brings. But in Osborne’s shambolic Budget shockingly a £1.1bn cut was sneaked in which will hit the NHS repairs fund. This Government simply does not understand or value the NHS, its workforce or its patients.