A group of the nation’s senior doctors have come together to deliver a damning indictment of the coalition’s record on the NHS.
In a letter published in today’s Guardian, the health professionals conclude that this administration’s record is “characterised by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding and destructive legislation, which leaves health services weaker, more fragmented, and less able to perform their vital role than at any time in the NHS’ history.”
The government’s controversial 2012 Health and Social Care Act (Lansley’s Act) is roundly condemned for “denationalising healthcare” and ‘for pushing the NHS towards a market-driven, “out-for-tender” mentality, where care is “provided by the lowest bidder.”
The squeeze on NHS services under the coalition’s stewardship is laid bare, with the letter citing the closure or downgrading of ‘dozens’ of accident and emergency departments and maternity units, the closure or downgrading of 51 NHS walk-in centres and the loss thousands of NHS beds since 2010.
Funding cuts and multiple reorganisations “driven by ideology, not what works” are blamed for the “disarray” in mental health and primary care. Patients left queuing in ambulances, NHS trusts erecting tents in car parks to deal with demand, missed A&E targets – the worst in a decade – and elderly, vulnerable patients unable to go home because “colleagues in social care have no money or staff” to provide the necessary care, are all cited as evidence of a service in meltdown.
Policies undermined NHS
They place the blame firmly at the door of the coalition, concluding that: “we are left with little doubt that that the current government’s policies have undermined and weakened the NHS.”
They call for the scrapping of the most damaging sections of the Health and Social Care Act and warn that privatisation “jeopardises training of our future healthcare providers and medical research.”
The letter ends with an invitation to voters to “consider carefully how the NHS has fared over the last five years, and to use their vote to ensure that the NHS in England is reinstated.”
Responding to the letter, Unite national officer Barrie Brown, said, “There can be no more serious a condemnation of the government’s appalling record on the NHS than a group of the nation’s top doctors coming together to lambast the coalition over its failure to keep its NHS pledges.
“In just five years David Cameron’s coalition government has managed to drive a world-class health service into the ground,” added Barrie.
“It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the 1.4m NHS staff that the state of our health service is not much worse. Yesterday (April 7) we learned that accident and emergency waiting times are at their worst in a decade. This is despite it being a mild winter with no serious epidemics to deal with.
“In less than a month we have the chance to vote to save the NHS from the very worst aspects of the coalition’s damaging Health and Social Care Act 2012– the Labour Party is the only party to commit to scrapping the pro-privatisation 2012 Act. I would urge readers to heed the doctors’ invitation and ‘consider carefully how the NHS has fared over the last five years,” he concluded.