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The Government is failing the NHS

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22 June 2012

Please see below the text from my article in today’s South London Press.

When David Cameron came to power he promised to make the NHS his priority. He said he would “protect frontline services” and that there would be no more “top-down reorganisations” of the Health Service.

So two years on, what’s the verdict?

Yesterday, Doctors went on strike for the first time since 1975. Last week, the British Social Attitudes Survey showed the biggest drop in public satisfaction with the NHS in almost 30 years. And in South London, we know that not only is satisfaction down but waiting times are up. Since the General Election in May 2010, the number of people waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment in Lewisham is up 30%, in Lambeth it is up 92% and in Southwark 173%.

This isn’t the record of a Government committed to the NHS; it is the record of a Government failing.

Last week, I stood up in the House of Commons and put it to the Health Secretary that is was about time that the Government started to live up to their promises on the NHS. The response I got told me we have a Government in denial.

Since I have become an MP, more people have written to me about the Health Service than any other issues. My constituents are worried that this Government wants to break up the NHS. They are worried that the Government’s so-called reorganisation is simply a cover up for privatisation. They are worried that they are going to see less taxpayers’ going into patient care and more into the pockets of shareholders.

But it’s not just the public who are concerned. Just ask the professionals. When I talk to nurses and health visitors they tell me a story of rising caseloads and less time to spend with patients. They are fed up that the Government are expecting them to work for longer, pay more into their pensions yet get less back at the end of their working lives. These are the people who are the backbone of the NHS. The Government would do well to listen to them.

So whilst we all remember the air-brushed billboards of David Cameron telling us that we could trust him with the NHS, two years on the story is very different; waiting time guarantees for hospitals appointments and GP treatments have been scrapped, there has been a £1.2 billion real terms cut in funding and now we know the Health Service has the lowest levels of public satisfaction since the survey started in 1983. The NHS is one of this country’s proudest achievements. Instead of denying the problems that they are creating, the Government must listen to people’s concerns and act on them. It’s too important to do otherwise.

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