Unite to Save Our NHS

04 Oct 2016
Over this summer Labour has shown that we are the party that will protect our NHS and provide much needed investment in our social care.

This is in stark contrast to the Conservatives, who have worked to bring the NHS to its knees. The NHS has experienced the lowest annual spending rises in its history. The Health and Social Care Act has wreaked untold damage, opening the door to systematic privatisation.

The result has been deep cuts to services; whilst waiting lists are growing, and the Government is failing patients by missing key targets on cancer treatment and Accident and Emergency waiting times. The government is driving through £22 billion in cuts by 2020 and right now the NHS is short of 50,000 front-line staff nationwide.  Accompanying the crisis in the NHS itself there is an ever-deepening crisis of social care, with one in ten over 50 not having their care needs met.

It is clear that the Conservatives are undermining the future existence of an institution regularly described as one of Britain’s greatest achievements. That everyone should be freely able to access the healthcare they need was first a political aspiration that captured people’s support – and its implementation was transformative for the lives of millions.

Now to save the NHS and secure its future we again need a radical vision. We wouldtherefore repeal the Health and Social Care Act, as the first step towards undoing damaging and wasteful marketization.

The massive crisis in our NHS has a knock on impact in so many aspects of daily lives,

The government’s superficial £1 billion a year pledge to tackle Mental Health was packaged as a revolution, yet it is barely enough to sustain the already sorely inadequate service.  

Britain has a mental health crisis and this government is making it worse through cuts in funding, services and support.

Similarly, the main reason for the extent of the crisis is that social care to help people stay safe and independent at home is mainly arranged by local councils, organisations that have borne the brunt of spending cuts.

In a clear false economy, cuts to social care mean more and more patients languish in hospitals. There is a huge knock-on effect on the NHS, where each year more older people are finding themselves trapped in
hospital, simply because there isn’t the care available for them.

The NHS and social care are interlinked and in order to  build a sustainable future for the NHS and Social care we need not only proper funding, but to recognise how our public services impact on each other. It also means we need to tackle the barriers that exist to us becoming a healthier society; barriers that create greater costs for us all.

Whilst this government is using the discredited concept of austerity to cut our health and care sectors budgets, depriving them of the finance they need to support our sick and older people, under Labour is clearly opposing the Tories on issue after issue in defence of our NHS.

But Labour is not just about opposing the Tories’ failed policies of austerity. It’s also about setting our sights higher about the type of society we want. We can make this radical change with a genuinely transformative economic policy that is not based on cuts, but instead invests to grow our economy. That is the way to save our NHS and social care.

* This article originally appeared in Labour  Briefing (co-operative) magazine.

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