The NHS just marked its sixty-sixth birthday but I fear for its future after the costly and disruptive reforms of the Conservative-led Government. Their unnecessary top-down re-organisation of the NHS cost £3 billion which Labour says should have been spent on front-line patient care.
NHS staff redundancies have cost £1.4 billion including thousands of six-figure redundancy payoffs. Even worse, one in six of the staff made redundant were then rehired. For example a payment of £605,000 was made to an NHS executive whose husband also received a £345,000 payoff. Both were rehired elsewhere in the NHS.
Meanwhile, Conservative Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes that the NHS "cannot afford" to give a 1% pay rise to nurses. I recently met nurses and midwives who told me how bad for morale it was that staff like them could not be given the 1% pay rise recommended by their pay review body.
GPs are under greater pressure as walk-in centres have been closed and funding for social care has been cut by cash-strapped local councils. We have lost walk-in Centres at Little Hulton and Pendleton. Government cuts to City Council budgets mean 1,000 fewer adults in Salford will have their social care funded this year.
A recent survey showed that only 50% of Salford patients could get a GP appointment within 48 hours and 1 in 7 patients said they had to wait a week or more. All of this adds up to an NHS under pressure with services being reduced.
David Cameron has tried to claim that waiting times have gone down for A and E patients when the opposite is true. Too many patients have to wait longer than four hours in A and E or longer than 6 weeks for diagnostic tests or longer than 62 days for cancer treatment.
NHS founder, Nye Bevan, said that the NHS would exist "as long as there folk left with the faith to fight for it". Labour has pledged to fight to keep the NHS as a public service and that we will repeal the Coalition Government's damaging legislation if elected in 2015.