The latest national, regional and local statistics for NHS Accident and Emergency (A&E) services should give is all cause for concern. They figures show just how much A&E units are struggling in a way not seen since the bad old days of the 1990s. Simply because of the big investment in the NHS under Tony Blair’s government, which produced such dramatic improvements, we often forget just how bad our NHS had become twenty years ago.
Almost 4,500 nursing jobs have been lost since David Cameron entered Downing Street in May 2010 and those losses are now putting patients’ lives at risk. Nationally, more than half a million patients have waited more than 4 hours to be seen in A&E in the last 6 months.
Recently released figures show that major A&E units across Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands are now seriously struggling and that they have consistently missed their waiting times targets. Wherever you turn, more people are waiting longer in A&E in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Nottingham and Derby.
I was proud of Labour’s NHS record in government. By 2010, patient satisfaction was at an all time high, waiting times were at a record low and we had increased the number of nurses by over 80,000. Earlier in this Parliament, I called on this government to abandon its massively expensive, top-down re-organisation of the NHS and instead use some of the money to save 6,000 nursing jobs.
Nurses are the backbone of our NHS but the Government has failed to grasp the seriousness of its cuts to nursing numbers and the impact that is having on A&E units. The Government must devise an urgent plan to bring all A&Es up to the required standard and ensure there are enough staff on duty to provide the safe care we all need.