The NHS is in the news, and with over a million more visits a year to A&E than in 2010, there are real winter pressures.
The Government has provided almost 1,200 more A&E doctors, including 400 more A&E consultants, than in 2010, and a record £700 million has been made available to help ease A&E pressures this winter.
Overall, the NHS is doing more than ever before to treat people when they need it. Compared with 2009/10, A&Es are now able to see 2,000 more people a day, and nine in ten patients, within the target time of four hours of them arriving.
Undoubtedly there are strains and issues such as a rising elderly population and the growing cost of treatments.
But Labour’s attempt to ‘weaponise’ the NHS to mount a party political attack are scandalous.
This Government has increased the NHS budget by £12.7 billion over this Parliament, enabling 8,000 more doctors and 6,000 more nurses to be recruited.
Labour and the unions are also trying to say that the NHS is being privatised. This simply isn’t true. In fact, the last Labour government promoted private sector provision in the NHS.
We have seen some contracts for services being awarded to new providers.
Locally, one of these is for a new integrated musculoskeletal service which would be delivered by a consortium including a social enterprise and BUPA.
BUPA is not a profit-making company, it is a mutual, but surely what matters to patients is that services are still provided under the NHS umbrella, free at the point of use.
These decisions over the best contracts are now made by the new Clinical Commissioning Groups which are led by local GPs.
There has been concern that the new contract would threaten A&E services at our hospitals.
However, the Clinical Commissioning Group has expressed its commitment to ensure that the future of A&Es in Worthing and Chichester is secure.
I know how much local people value the NHS.
Together we marched to save our local A&E services at hospitals, and I personally owe a great deal to St Richard’s in Chichester.
I will support no measure which puts local services at risk.
But I believe that reforms to enable the NHS to adapt to modern pressures are essential. And only a strong economy will deliver the resources which public services like the NHS need.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.