Cameron’s NHS “crisis, what crisis?” moment
In response to the growing and widely reported crisis in A&E across the NHS in England, David Cameron dismissed union “scaremongering” and referred to the issue as “short-term pressure”.
Let’s recap the issues that David Cameron describes as “short-term pressure”:
- A financial situation labelled as “unprecedented” by the King’s Fund, with over 60% of hospitals in the red and an accumulated NHS deficit of £630m halfway through the year.
- A&E waiting times at the highest level for a decade, with more than 5% of patients waiting for four or more hours.
- At least 14 NHS hospitals have declared major incidents, cancelling operations and outpatient appointments amid warnings that they are now under “unprecedented pressure”.
- Waiting times for hospital treatment have also reached their highest levels since 2008. The target to treat 90% of inpatients within 18 weeks of referral has been breached for several consecutive months.
- There have been similar breaches in waiting-time targets for cancer care and diagnostics.
- The number of delayed transfers of care in September 2014 was 17.5% higher than the same month the previous year.
- A 3.4% real terms cut in GP funding in 2013/14 has led to increasing problems in getting GP appointments.
- A 2% real terms cut in funding for mental health services between 2011/12 and 2013/14 has led to staff and bed shortages, with the Care Quality Commission reporting of vulnerable patients with mental health problems being held in police cells.
- A 28% increase in complaints about ambulance services, as services increasingly fail to meet demand.
- And now Circle Health, the government’s private sector poster child, has announced its intention to withdraw from the management contract for Hinchingbrooke Hospital due to the toxic combination of rising demand and the government’s funding squeeze.
Hyperbole helps no-one. But neither, of course, does complacency. Is the Prime Minister’s analysis correct?
We’ll let you be the judge.