The signs that our local NHS is under massive strain are growing. Whilst we are constantly told that the NHS is ‘open for business’, clearly that is not the whole story.
This week’s alarming article in the Knutsford Guardian (“30,000 Cheshire women miss breast cancer screenings” – 7th. March) follows previous reports about the 40,000 waiting list for treatment across Cheshire, and the findings by Healthwatch in Cheshire that many people are struggling to find an NHS dentist.
Furthermore, nationally, reports are emerging about the extent to which patients are prepared to pay privately for treatment, in order to avoid long, worrying waits. That is inevitable, given the circumstances; but hugely concerning for those of us campaigning to prevent a two-tier health service in the UK, such as they have in America.
The solutions to this national crisis do not include another expensive re-organisation, such as the one the Government is now embarking upon; nor do they include – as local GP Surgeries are doing – making it easy for private health providers to piggy-back the NHS’s digital information system.
What we do need are:
- political leaders prepared to admit and confront the severity of this crisis;
- a cross-Party plan to restore the NHS to its vital, founding principles;
- the replacement of the iniquitous NI rise in April, with a fairer, progressive tax strategy to raise an immediate, credible sum for the NHS and Social Care;
- a recognition that international recruitment, including from the EU, is part of the solution, not a problem;
- a transformation in the way the NHS allows the public to know what’s going on, influence decisions, and challenge outcomes.