Something worrying is happening with the NHS in our area

Something worrying is happening with the NHS and health care in our area.

But when I recently asked people about their experiences of the NHS, 92% told me they thought the health service was under pressure. That’s a pretty clear indication of concern. And the biggest worries local patients told me about were delays in getting GP appointments, waiting times for referrals, tests or treatment and maternity services.

Just in the past week, dozens of people have contacted me in my Morley office with specific concerns. “I recently went in for a scan and people are running on empty,” one local man told me. One woman from Drighlington wrote, “my personal experience of cancer in the family has made me more aware than ever of how lucky we are to have the NHS.” And another man said, “The NHS saved my life when I had a heart attack, but I’m worried about private companies taking over.”

And at a meeting with local health professionals at Morley Health Centre the other week, staff expressed similar concerns. “The pressure just keeps growing and we just have to do more but with less of us to do it,” one local physiotherapist told me. But one of the most worrying cases I’ve heard recently was from a local woman who I spoke to after she’d given birth to her baby in hospital. She told me she had been kept on a ward during labour because there wasn’t the room or the midwives available.

Of course, many of the specific cases that come to me are exceptions. Most people’s experience of the NHS remains positive. And I know from speaking to staff in our NHS just how hard they work and how dedicated they are to doing the best for patients.

But the NHS is clearly under huge pressure. A&E waiting times have been missed almost every week for the last 6 months. Staff are clearly frustrated at the increasing pressure they have to work under. The lack of social care is putting NHS beds under strain. And of course when the NHS tries to do more and more but without a corresponding increase in budgets, it does impact on patients.

What is clear from my casework and the conversations I’m having with both patients and staff locally, is that pressure on budgets are growing and a huge shortage of staff in the health service is really starting to bite.

I want to be able to reassure local people when they contact me. I want to say that the NHS’s future is assured. Looking forwards I want to see 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors, 5,000 more homecare workers and 3,000 more midwives in the health service to ease the pressures. But at the moment that isn’t happening and when staff and patients, even managers, tell you the pressure is getting too great and the NHS is going backwards, I can’t reassure constituents who contact me.

It’s not just about numbers of staff, although obviously getting more nurses will take the pressure off existing staff. We need to make sure we cut out any waste and get value for money for every pound we spend. Above all, it’s about staff having the time to care for patients and not always being rushed off their feet, dashing from one emergency to the next.

Of course any changes have to be paid for. No one can promise to turn things around without saying where the money is coming from. That is why I have said I want to see specific changes made including a levy on tobacco companies and a crack-down on tax avoidance all being used to raise £2.5 billion a year for the NHS.

For those who’ve written to me this last week, improvements in the health service can’t come soon enough. I remain extremely worried about what will happen if we don’t get the additional investment NHS patients locally desperately need and deserve.

Like those people who’ve been in touch over the last week, if you have your own concerns about our NHS and local healthcare, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. My email will remain the same over the next few weeks: and you also can reach me on 0113 253 9466 or 0113 318 0202.

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Posted March 25th, 2015 by Ed