National Health Service

Part of Opposition Day — [14th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Labour, Bolton South East 6:34 pm, 21st January 2015

I wish to start by thanking NHS staff. I agree with the Secretary of State that they should be recognised for all their work, so I ask him to consider giving them the 1% pay rise that has been recommended by an independent body. That would be a real way of recognising all their hard work.

I wish to talk about the Royal Bolton hospital in my constituency; it is the third largest accident and emergency department in the north-west. Last year, it saw 114,510 people. A and E admissions numbered 26,267 and in 2013-14, elective operations stood at 14,865 and non-elective at 1,407. The staff—porters, cleaners, care assistants and clinical staff—do an excellent job in a very difficult situation. My hospital needs more resources.

As I attend regular meetings with the chief executive officer and the chair of the Royal Bolton hospital, I also often visit the A and E department to see the situation at first hand. Recently, the hospital declared a major incident when it could not take in 76 patients. By cancelling non-emergency elective operations, it managed to free 40 beds. However, as a consequence of cancelling those operations, it lost £600,000.

As the hospital will now no longer be able to meet the target of the clinical commissioning group, it will end up getting penalised as well. To meet that target, the hospital may have to resort to using private companies, which may cost it even more. Whichever way we look at it, the hospital stands to lose quite a lot of money. Over the past two years, it has had to make £40 million of cost savings, and it will have to carry on cutting in light of the demands that it is facing.

The main reason for the long waits in A and E was that many people could not get GP appointments or go to walk-in centres, so they had to go to A and E as a first port of call rather than as a last one. Secondly, many elderly and frail people could not be discharged, which then led to bed blocking. There were 94,046 acute delayed days last November, which then created even bigger blockages. The hospital is caught bang in the middle of the problem—there are problems at the start, before people go to hospital, and there are problems at the end, because people are not being transferred or discharged. That situation must change. One reason for the delays in transfers and discharges is the cut in the budget for social services and adult care. More than 300,000 people no longer receive state funding for social care.

In 2009-2010, the Labour Government spent 8.2% of GDP on the NHS, whereas in 2013-14, the figure was 7.9%. It is quite clear, therefore, that less money is going into the sector. It has been recognised in this Chamber that, with more people living longer and with growing health needs, that money has to go up. To say that nothing further can be done with regards to putting more finance into hospitals is completely wrong.

In Bolton, the local authority, the hospital and the clinical commissioning group are trying to work together. When I recently visited my local A and E, 17 cubicles were in full use and two people were on trolleys. The situation is not good enough, because Bolton is an incredibly large area, serving about 300,000 people. People from Wigan and other surrounding areas also use the hospital.

Another problem is the shortage of GPs and the fact that walk-in centres have been closed down. We know that we need at least another 400 GPs and more walk-in centres. If we had an increase in those areas, the problem would not be so acute. Finally, not enough nurses are being trained, which will lead to a big shortage. That is another tsunami waiting to happen.