Labour pledges to pull NHS back from the brink in first 100 days

With MRI scanners unfit for purpose, hospitals unable to afford maintenance of priority medical equipment, theatres with unclean air – NHS boards warn of “extreme” risks across South East hospitals Labour pledges a relentless focus on the NHS in its first 100 days in government as new research reveals hundreds of “extreme” risks to patient and staff safety in hospitals across England.

The long-term impact that Tory and Liberal Democrat underfunding is having on our health service is exposed in official NHS Trust documents.

Analysis of more than 120 Trust board papers shows NHS Trusts are faced with hundreds of risks to patient safety classed as “catastrophic” or “extreme”, with the majority linked to lack of spending, staffing shortages or the failures of privatisation.

In government, Labour will immediately undertake a full audit of risks revealed by the research and prioritise capital spending – which Labour has already allocated – ensuring people and buildings are made safe.

Surrey And Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s board reports extreme risks due to two ultra clean air (“laminar flow”) theatres which have had to be shut down after their  ventilation systems and fire dampers failed standards, a third has failed tests and so can no longer be used as an ultra-clean air theatre. Consequently, the hospital has been unable to operate on a large range of orthopaedic procedures and its overall capacity has been significantly reduced.

Last year (2018/19), across the NHS, there were 15,844 patient incidents “directly” related to estates and facilities services (an average of 70 incidents per acute, mental health and ambulance Trust) and 4,810 clinical incidents caused by estate and infrastructure failure. In 2018/19 there were also 1,541 fires recorded by NHS Trusts, with 34 people injured as a result. The cost of eliminating the maintenance repairs backlog in NHS Trusts is now £6.5 billion. £1.1 billion of this is high-risk maintenance and repairs.

NHS leaders have already warned this year that lack of investment in facilities was impacting patient safety. And last month GPs warned that winter pressures were likely to have an impact on patient safety, and 9 out of 10 hospital bosses felt staffing pressures were putting patient’s health at risk.

Earlier this year the Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the CQC warned that the NHS had made little progress in improving patient safety over the past 20 years, and NHS Providers published research that showed 8 out of 10 trust leaders felt that reduced investment in NHS facilities was compromising patient safety.

Peter Lamb, Labour Leader at Crawley: Council and Parliamentary Candidate has said:

“There can be few who now doubt that our NHS is in crisis and on the brink of collapse.

“If clinicians know what needs fixing but there is no money then clearly things have to change. The Tories have had nine years, we need a Labour government that will crack on and do it.

“The choice at this election is clear: we simply cannot afford five more years of the Tories running our health service into the ground. I’ve heard that time and again from local doctors here in Crawley during this campaign, they have been out on the streets supporting us. They see people in Crawley waiting longer for cancer treatment and operations, and more young people are unable to access the mental health care they need. It cannot go on and only a Labour government on the side of patients and staff, with a real rescue plan for our NHS can turn things around.

“So I welcome this pledge to address the issue within the first 100 days of a Labour government – because
people’s health and saving our NHS has to be an absolute priority.”

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