It comes as no surprise that when the public are asked what makes them most proud of the UK, the NHS consistently comes top of the list. The idea that medical treatment should be based upon people’s need rather than their personal wealth now seems so blindingly obvious now, yet it was considered revolutionary at the time Labour brought the NHS to life.
Over seventy years later, it is that same health service which has managed to limit the numbers who have lost their lives to COVID-19, even as the Government’s too-little-too-late approach to the pandemic has allowed the UK to suffer greater case numbers than almost any other major economic nation.
Yet, all of this has come at a huge cost to the service and the latest figures from Crawley’s local NHS trust reveal that there are now 31,061 patients waiting for care in our area, 119 of whom have been waiting for over a year. Nationally over one in ten people in England are currently on an NHS waiting list.
The Government has yet to publish its plan to address the vast NHS waiting list, with hospitals around the country already reporting unsustainable pressure and an inability to provide high quality care. While COVID-19 has made the situation worse, the problems facing the NHS didn’t start with the pandemic and won’t end with it, only a shift in the politics of the Conservative Party could result in the National Health Service receiving the support it desperately needs.
Nationally, the NHS is short of 100,000 staff, including 7,000 doctors and 40,000 nurses. In the Budget last month, the Chancellor failed to set out any plan to recruit, train, or retain the staff needed to solve this waiting list crisis.
The members of staff who make up our NHS do amazing work, but they are lions led by lambs, once again waiting for Boris Johnson to deliver a plan to resolve the problems he has helped to create. They deserve better, as do the thousands of Crawley residents left wondering when, if ever, they will get the treatment they need.