Liberal Democrats Response to the Crisis Facing our NHS and Social Care
Liberal Democrats response to the crisis facing our NHS and Social Care is best summed up by others; Andrew George, who most of you will know and a long term health campaigner locally and Daisy Cooper, MP, our party spokes person on Health and Social Care.
FROM DAISY COOPER, M.P
Let’s be frank, the NHS is collapsing in front of our eyes whilst the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are nowhere to be seen.
In recent days ambulance services across the country have declared “critical incidents”, whilst ambulance staff have been urged to conserve oxygen supplies due to a surge in demand.
Patients are dying in hospital corridors, in queuing ambulances outside A&E departments and at home because help did not arrive in time.
An undignified and unnecessary loss of life.
This is a national crisis. Nobody should lose a loved one because the Government was asleep on the job.
NHS paramedics, nurses and doctors are this country’s heroes but they have been left high and dry. They need help right now before more people die.
This week, we have been calling for Parliament to return without delay so that we can work together to fix this urgent, life and death problem. The Prime Minister must declare a major incident now to put the NHS back on a pandemic-style footing amid soaring numbers of deaths.
The Liberal Democrats’ 5-point Winter Plan for Ambulances will help fix the problems facing emergency services and save lives both now and in the future.
- Fix Social Care. Bring forward a fully funded programme to get people who are medically well enough discharged from hospital and set up with appropriate social care and support. This will allow people to leave hospital sooner and make more space available for new arrivals.
The Government’s current attempt at this through the Adult Social Care Discharge Fund is not good enough, as the funds will come from existing NHS budgets putting even more pressure on other services. It will also not be deployed in full until the end of January.
- More hospital beds. In addition to getting people out of hospital so that they get care in a more comfortable setting, the number of beds in hospitals needs to be increased to end excessive handover delays for ambulances, caused by a lack of bed capacity. Any new beds must come with increases in staff to care for those extra patients.
- Community mental health support. Expand mental health support services to get people the appropriate care they need and reduce the number of call-outs for ambulances for mental health reasons. Learning from hospitals that have set up ‘emergency mental health departments’, will not only get people more appropriate care but relieve pressure on A&Es and ambulances.
- Paramedic recruitment drive. Launch a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and other ambulance service staff. Like all health and care services, it needs to be properly staffed.
- Ambulance delay transparency. Pass my Ambulance Waiting Times Bill into law which would require accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times to be published. This would ensure that ‘hot spots’ with some of the longest waiting times can be identified routinely. 12-hour waits at A&E should also be published from arrival at hospital rather than the ‘decision to admit’ as is current practice so that the true scale of the problem is clear for all to see.
FROM ANDREW GEORGE, ST IVES CONSTITUENCY PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE
My top goal for 2023. To bring all Parties together to secure the long-term future of our NHS and care services.
I’m calling on those fellow politicians who truly care about what’s happening to our NHS and care services to join community leaders, health and care professionals to agree a way forward.
We cannot carry on like this. Hundreds needlessly die every week waiting for ambulances or in ambulance queues unable to get into gridlocked hospitals. These problems preceded the pandemic. Ministers cannot blame Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The problem is home grown.
This could of course have been avoided:
– if our NHS had been supported with serious workforce planning more than a decade ago when the Health Committee I served on strongly warned about the then looming crisis;
– if safe staffing standards were put in place when I and others led the campaign to support staff and protect patients with mandated staff/patient ratios;
– if the Government had supported front-line staff by rewarding them properly rather than undermining staff morale with pay cuts;
– if the evidently threadbare social care system and underpayment of care workers hadn’t been ignored; and
– if successive Governments hadn’t drastically slashed the number of hospital beds, which left most acute hospitals in perpetual and worsening bed management crisis.
The present Government has responded with largely irrelevant headline-chasing announcements about promising to build “new hospitals” or promising to invest large-sounding amounts in future years, or to recruit thousands of GPs, when their numbers have actually gone down. Whatever they’re doing, it isn’t working.
Now, those who care about a viable publicly funded and publicly-run NHS, free at the point of delivery and a properly resourced and rewarded care sector, must come together to plan a future which resolves this crisis and puts our essential services on a sound footing for the future. We have to start now, because commentators in the right-wing press are already circling to write the obituary of the NHS and propose a more insurance-based American-style system based on ability to pay.
It won’t be easy, because this Government has wasted time and set the services back a very long way. It’ll be difficult to retrieve the situation from here. But it can and must be done. I’m determined to.
My tiny contribution is about staff morale, in both health and social care. We clapped them as hero’s during the pandemic but now they are left over worked and demoralised; sadly good people have either left or looking to leave soon. Unless we fix, recognise the value of all these essential health and social care workers, these services will go the way of dentistry – unless you pay in some way, the service will not be there for you when you most need it. We cannot let that happen, we cannot allow another Conservative Government to rule this country after the next General Election.
If you want to ensure we have 1 less Conservative MP, then please actively support us Liberal Democrats – volunteer (many different things you could do), donate money, become a member!