Labour’s commitment to the NHS

I have recently signed the pledge from the Royal College of Nursing to champion the interests of nurses locally. I was very pleased to do so.

Outside of politics, I am the branch secretary with GMB trade union for Wiltshire, with a number of members in the NHS who I support, especially at the GWH in Swindon. I have first hand experience of how the NHS is suffering financially at the moment, and the recent decision of the Conservatives to abolish the bursary for student nurses shows just how out of touch they are with the realities facing the profession.

The government is not meeting its recruitment and retention targets for nurses or doctors and the 1% pay cap is severely hampering the profession. Labour will ensure that NHS staff are properly rewarded.

To touch on my own personal experience, my son was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of leukaemia in 2015. Fortunately through the fantastic treatment he had at the Bristol Childrens hospital he has pulled through, and I was completely overwhelmed by the professionalism and levels of care and kindness by all the medical staff, and particularly impressed by the gentle toughness of the nurses who encouraged him back into eating after his bone marrow transplant. The nursing care was just as important as the expertise of the doctors of getting him on the path to recovery.

This experience makes me even more acutely concerned that over 24000 patients are now waiting longer than 2 months to start urgent cancer treatment, and the two month cancer target has not been met since December 2015. We are not meeting that 2 month target in Wiltshire.

Not only under the Conservatives but also when the Lib Dems were in government between 2010 and 2015 waiting lists soared; with over a million more people waiting for treatment than when Labour was in power. In both North Bristol NHS trust and GWH NHS Foundation Trust, based on the latest available data, the target has been missed to see 92% of patients within 18 weeks for their operation. Since 2009/2010 the number of people waiting longer than 4 hours in hospital A&E departments has quadrupled, and in the year 2015/2016 more than 1.8 million people had to wait longer than 4 hours.

Older and vulnerable people have also been hit by £4.6 billion cut from social care budgets, both under the Conservatives and when the Lib Dems were in government.

In contrast, I am very proud of what was achieved by the Labour government between 1997 and 2010. By 2010, there were 80000 more nurses and 44000 more doctors.

Labour is pledged to fully fund the NHS, and in particular to ensure that performance targets are met. We will introduce legislation so that the NHS has a statutory duty to have safe staffing levels, we will lift the 1% pay cap, and restore NHS bursaries. We will also introduce a plan to alleviate immediate pressures on social care, and ensure long term sustainable funding.

Published and promoted by Steve Abbott of 71 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HA on behalf of Andy Newman, 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW

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