From the TUC

Why aren’t ministers making more of an NHS success?

07 Mar 2012, by in Public services

The Department of Health’s new figures for waiting times for diagnostic tests really make quite encouraging reading. These are the tests (like audiology or MRI scans) a consultant will book for you to help their diagnosis and it can be important that you don’t have to wait a long time for them. And the latest figures are good: nowadays, practically no-one has to wait a year for these tests and there are far fewer people waiting 6 or 13 weeks:

And the Department hasn’t been using one of the obvious ways to massage statistics like this – making everyone wait longer to bring down the extremes – because median waiting times have fallen too:

This is good news from new statistics; why aren’t Ministers trumpeting this? You’d have thought they would be keen to claim that the cuts aren’t hurting.

There’s a couple of answers that spring to mind. One is to look at when the waiting times came down – this is a Labour success, not something you’d want to highlight if your story is that everything the last government did was a failure.

But I think the deeper answer is that the government is in difficult position – if they make too much of good news like this it undermines their case for the Health and Social Care Bill. The Prime Minister has been reduced to insisting there’s a crisis in the NHS that needs radical surgery. The latest government line is that the Bill may seem extreme, but desperate measures are necessary. If the Bill isn’t “unavoidable and urgent” it is impossible to justify.

When a government ignores good news about the NHS and prefers to tell us everything is in crisis you have to doubt their commitment to it. That’s why tonight’s Save Our NHS Rally is so important.

It may be a bit late for you to get to Westminster (starts at 6.00) but you can take part on line:

  • Tweet about the event. Don’t forget the hashtag, #SaveOurNHS.
  • Sign your name: Add your name to the big online petition to drop the Bill, started by Dr Kailash Chand. Sign the petition
  • Adopt a Peer: Use our campaign tool to match yourself up with a member of the House of Lords and lobby them over some of the latest amendments to the Bill. Adopt a Peer
  • It’s good to talk: Start a discussion on any bulletin boards or online communities that you use.
  • Get the media involved: Visit your favourite newspaper or online media sites and leave a comment on the latest news stories about the NHS.
  • Share the video: Watch UNISON’s “New NHS” video on YouTube and share it with your friends. NewNHS video
  • SMS for the NHS: Text a message of opposition to the Bill to Unite’s Unite4OurNHS campaign. Text “NHS” and your message to 86888.