Before the last general election, David Cameron made three unequivocal promises on health:
- above-inflation funding increases for the NHS
- a moratorium on hospital closures and reconfigurations
- no top-down re-organisation of the NHS.
All three of those promises have been broken. We can already see the impact of the failure to keep the funding promise, and it’s now clear why the Conservatives wanted to denigrate and devalue ‘targets’ on waiting-times for appointments, diagnosis and treatment.
I’ve just received the latest statistical report from the Department of Health – so these are the Government’s own figures. Since May 2010
- Nationally, the number of people who have to wait for treatment for more than 4 hours in Accident and Emergency Departments has doubled; in Yorkshire and Humberside, it’s 125% more;
- There’s been a 40% increase in the numbers of people waiting more than 18 weeks for hospital treatment, a 29% increase in those waiting 6 months, and a 117% increase in those waiting more than 1 year;
- In Yorkshire and Humberside, there’s been a 300% increase (that is four times as many) in the number of people waiting more than 6 weeks for diagnostic tests.
These increases follow year-on-year decreases in waiting-times which followed the significant investment in new buildings and equipment and increases in doctors and nurses made by the last government.
This week, we also learned from one of David Cameron’s general election campaign team that he only included his promise on NHS funding to overcome the perception that ‘you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS’. Well, now we know the truth – the perception is the reality.
For the last 12 months, my colleague John Healey MP (Wentworth, Rotherham) has been asking Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, to publish a report prepared for the government on the risks it was taking with its top-down NHS reorganisation proposals costing £2bn. Lansley has consistently refused to release the report, but now the Information Commissioner has instructed him to make it public. He must do that now, whilst Parliament is still debating his proposals.