MPs have backed a motion calling on the Government to fund hospitals to ‘resume full service’ amid winter pressures.
The Labour Party brought the motion to Parliament today, calling on the Government to fund the rescheduling of operations cancelled until the end of this month.
Presenting the motion, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth blamed the Government’s ‘failure to give the NHS and social care the funding it needs’ for the ‘unprecedented’ decision to defer ‘approximately 55,000’ non-urgent operations.
Ahead of the debate, Mr Ashcroft said: ‘Patients and staff have once again been let down this winter by a Government in disarray, failing to sufficiently prepare for the predictable spike in demand as the cold snap hits.
‘Thousands of patients are now bearing the brunt for this appalling winter crisis, with elective operations being deferred until the end of January for the first time ever. We are today calling on Theresa May to urgently fund the health service to reschedule these operations as soon as possible.
‘Instead of reshuffling her Government and offering fancier titles to her secretary of state, Theresa May must get an urgent grip of this escalating crisis.’
During the debate, health ministers accused Labour of ‘politicising’ the NHS, which is finding itself amidst high rates of flu, and said they were ‘truly thankful’ for the work of NHS staff.
Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Let me deal with this issue of the cancelled elective care operations, because I actually agree with the shadow health secretary that it is a big deal for patients who are told that their planned procedure is going to be postponed. No one wants to minimise the distress that it causes.
‘But what happened last year and what has happened in previous winters is that operations have been cancelled at the last moment and that is much more distressing, and it is much more challenging for hospitals to plan around that. So the decision was taken this year to do this in a much more planned way.’
It comes as Labour MP Dr Paul Williams – a practising GP – argued in a previous winter pressures debate this week, that ‘cancelling non urgent work will only make things worse’.
Health minister Philip Dunne, who took questions whilst health secretary Jeremy Hunt was at Downing Street being appointed health and social care secretary, stressed that there were pressures in the NHS every winter. He said the Department of Health had started its planning much earlier than ever before.
The same Government reshuffle has since seen Mr Dunne demoted to the back benches.
Pulse has reported that GPs have cancelled leave and worked overtime to cope with rising patient demands related to cold and viral illness.
Winter crisis motion in full
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 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.
Source: Labour Party