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I absolutely agree. As Dr Dan Carradice, a leading consultant on this condition at Hull Royal Infirmary, says, time is ticking, and the more quickly we can deal with this, the more urgently we can save limbs. Because of the delay, we have seen over the past few months a growing wait for lower limb amputations, many of which could have been avoided with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
We cannot allow this situation to continue. Patients must be confident that they can visit their hospital safely. One vital way the Government could restore trust is to have a routine weekly testing programme for NHS and social care staff, so that patients know when they enter hospital that they are not likely to contract covid-19. Every day, the number of people seeking treatment is growing. Dr Una Adderley, programme director of the national wound care strategy, has described a “tsunami of unmet need” on the horizon as certain vascular services have been deprioritised.
Of course I recognise the huge pressure the NHS is under, but I believe that more can be achieved for people with vascular disease if they are given the focus they need. We need to create safe, covid-19-negative pathways and services for vascular disease in the community and in hospitals. I recognise that these are not straight- forward tasks, and as chair of the all-party group I will be writing to the Secretary of State for further details on exactly how this could be achieved. We also need a comprehensive approach to vascular disease in the NHS long-term plan, because there are huge regional inequalities, with patients in Hull being 46% more likely to need a major amputation than the England average. As I said before, time is tissue, so I look forward to getting a date in the diary for the Minister for Health, Edward Argar, to visit Hull, as he promised in a previous debate—but of course, only when it is safe to do so.
I note that the Government wish to change the wording of the motion away from the need for a weekly testing programme to instead celebrating and recognising their own efforts. With the greatest of respect to the Government, the highest and most well regarded praise tends not to be written by oneself. I would encourage them to seek to earn that praise rather than pen their own, and one way in which they could do that would be to prioritise the hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from vascular disease in the UK.