When people turn for help, too often help is not there. For the first time ever, the average wait for a routine GP appointment is now more than two weeks, our cancer survival rates are below the European average, and we have one of the worst rates of depression in the EU.
Nationally there are 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, 9% of the entire workforce. Locally we're not immune. The 2019 Care Quality Commission report on the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) rated the accident and emergency services as inadequate. Staffing levels and shortage of skills was a major reason.
The PRUH and the Beacon are part of the Kings College Hospital Trust which is struggling with the most serious financial problems in the NHS as a result of a private finance initiative (PFI) contract, high use of agency staff to cover the chronic lack of nurses and being fined for missing the 4 hour A&E target. 26.3% of nursing posts in acute and emergency care at the PRUH are vacant as are 12.4% of such posts in its children’s care unit. Staffing is the make or break issue for the NHS and workforce shortages are having a direct impact on patient care and staff experience
Everyone should be able to live a healthy life with the support they need in their local community. That means properly investing in the NHS and social care, doing more across government to promote wellbeing and to reduce inequality at every stage of life. It means making the shift from healthcare that kicks in only when people are ill to systems of wellbeing that help them to stay healthy and minimise levels of physical and mental ill-health.
Liberal Democrats demand better for the NHS and social care services. We are committed to securing the future of the NHS. With our bold plan to invest urgently in the NHS and social care services and deliver equality for mental and physical health, we will transform health services for the future.
We have a bold plan to urgently invest in the workforce and facilities and to deliver equality for mental and physical health. A Liberal Democrat government will build a better health and care system.
Our first priorities in the next parliament will be:
- Raising £7 billion a year in additional revenue by putting 1p on Income Tax, with this money to be ringfenced for spending on the NHS and social care.
- Transforming mental health by treating it with the same urgency as physical health.
- Reforming the Health and Social Care Act as recommended by the NHS, to make the NHS work in a more efficient and joined-up way, and to end the automatic tendering of services
Leaving the European Union would pose serious threats to the sustainability of the NHS and Social Care systems. It would severely threaten the scope to recruit or retain staff from elsewhere in Europe (a problem which will be made worse by the Conservatives’ proposed ‘nurse tax’). It risks potential delays to medicines, cancer tests, and treatments using radioisotopes. If Donald Trump has his way, it means increased access by US corporations to services currently provided by the NHS and the UK drugs market. Above all it means a long-term loss of financial resources as a result of reduced UK economic growth. Only a Liberal Democrat government can be trusted to avoid these risks by stopping Brexit.