NHS Winter Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:08 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Secretary of State for Health 1:08 pm, 10th January 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
expresses concern at the effect on patient care of the closure of 14,000 hospital beds since 2010;
records its alarm at there being vacancies for 100,000 posts across the NHS;
regrets the decision of the Government to reduce social care funding since 2010;
notes that hospital trusts have been compelled by NHS England to delay elective operations because of the Government’s failure to allocate adequate resources to the NHS;
condemns the privatisation of community health services;
and calls on the Government to increase cash limits for the current year to enable hospitals to resume a full service to the public, including rescheduling elective operations, and to report to the House by Oral Statement and written report before 1 February 2018 on what steps it is taking to comply with this resolution.

I begin by paying tribute to the extraordinary efforts of our NHS and social care staff for all their work this Christmas and new year, and this winter. They continue to do all of us in this House proud.

It is almost a year since the House debated the national health service in the first Opposition day debate following the Christmas and new year break. A year ago, we debated winter pressures with a backdrop that was characterised by the Red Cross as a “humanitarian crisis”. Here we are again, a year later, debating a winter crisis worse than last year’s. This winter crisis was described by Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, as “even worse” than last year’s. He also said:

“In some cases, I’ve heard of 50 patients in an emergency department waiting for a bed. We have to try to manage them…as best we can, in cold, draughty corridors, while dealing with new emergency patients.”

His words are backed up by the realities on the ground, revealed in the weekly reports of what is happening. Since the start of this winter, more than 75,000 patients waited for over 30 minutes in the back of an ambulance. Almost 17,000 patients waited for over 60 minutes. This is despite the NHS Improvement directive last year that emergency departments should accept handover of patients within 15 minutes of an ambulance arriving.