Time For The ‘NHS Blame Game’ To Be Ditched

21 June 2013

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Time For The ‘NHS Blame Game’ To Be Ditched

The shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said:

This week's report from the King's Fund concludes that waiting times in A&E recently hit a nine-year high; in the Labour government's last year in office 98 per cent of patients were seen within four hours; a combination of factors lies behind the extra pressure on hospitals but that severe cuts to social care budgets are one of the most significant causes; one in three hospitals in England say they do not have sufficient staffing levels to deal safely with demand on services; over 4,000 nursing posts have been lost from the NHS since May 2010.  

Since the turn of the year, the opposition have been warning the government about building pressure in A&E departments, and yesterday there was confirmation of just how bad things have got. The pressure is not confined to A&E, however, and wherever we look we can see warning signs: hospitals operating with close to 100 per cent bed occupancy, way beyond safe recommended levels; long queues of ambulances outside A&E; a treatment tent in a car park; a huge spike in the number of A&E diverts, where ambulances are turned away from units that cannot accept any more patients; double the number waiting longer than 30 minutes.

The evidence is clear: this health and care system is showing serious signs of distress. The government's response to date has been totally inadequate for the scale and urgency of the problems. First, they came to the house and denied there was a problem. On 15 January, the [health minister Dr Poulter] stated that "patients are being treated in a much more timely manner than under the previous government" – an inaccurate statement without any basis in fact.

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