Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Campaigning together for the NHS

My article in today’s Cornish Guardian looks at the need for more funding for the National Health Service. It is as follows:

Sarah Wollaston, former GP, MP for Totnes and the Chair of the House of Common’s Health Select Committee, has called for all political parties to “work together to solve the problem of NHS funding.”

She is one of the more out-spoken members on the Conservative benches and it is almost exactly twelve months ago since Dr Wollaston condemned the UK Government’s response to the crisis in the National Health Service as “dismal.”

It has also been just one month since she roundly condemned a junior Health Minister for a “disingenuous” use of statistics, when he responded to concerns about bed occupancy levels by quoting the figure for Christmas Eve!

But her latest intervention is compelling and frankly needs to be taken seriously by MPs of all political persuasions.

She said: "We need a proper review of funding. And we need to see political parties working together to get it delivered. We know all the possible solutions and people expect parliament to get their act together on how we are going to deliver it."

A former Health Minister in the Coalition Government, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, has meanwhile called for a cross-party commission on the future of the NHS and social care.

A fundamental review of the sustainability of health and social care funding settlements, “involving patients, staff and the public,” is certainly a good idea.

He was right when he added: “We know the future of our NHS is simply too important to let it suffer because of party political divides, and because those in power want to bury their heads in the sand.”

Senior MPs are from all Westminster parties - ranging from Jeremy Corbyn to Boris Johnson – have been making public statements calling for more money for the NHS, though it seems that the issue is not getting adequate traction with the Prime Minister and her Cabinet.

Members of Parliament really do need to unite on this issue and put co-operation ahead of short-term political advantage.

They would do well to follow the example of the people of Cornwall, who came together so strongly, in recent weeks, to oppose the possible loss of radiotherapy services.

It has been heartening to see health campaigners, advocacy groups such as West Cornwall Health Watch, the Sunrise Appeal, health professionals, patients past and present, MPs, councillors and more, all speaking up for Cornwall on this issue.

Indeed, everyone who took the time to respond to the radiotherapy consultation should be congratulated for standing up for the health service in Cornwall.

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