MPs must work together to safeguard our healthcare

As a doctor, every day I see the enduring effects of short-term political spin on my patients.

Hospitals bursting at the seams, short-staffed and lacking beds, are told desperately needed nurses will only be available if there is ‘surplus winter funding’. Patients ready to leave hospital wait weeks for ‘exceptional funds’ to secure specialist accommodation, while we face a 12% rise in delayed hospital stays. 

The Commonwealth Fund rightfully praised the NHS’s quality. Yet BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter warned we mustn’t be complacent over the perils of short-term partisan meddling. ‘A combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is undermining the very foundations of the NHS, as is the constant short-term interference from politicians of all colours.’

Reinforcing his counsel, unprecedented strikes showed the peril of capriciously uncosted manifesto pledges. This week NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens called for a national consensus on social care by 2018, as we learned we lag behind similar countries in spending.

It’s now clear we need consensus on safely funding and staffing health and social care into the next decade.

Ex-Minister Norman Lamb introduced a bill for such cross-party work, warning ‘the system will drift into a state of crisis [unless] we confront the existential challenge now.’ Supporters include Green MP Caroline Lucas, several Labour MPs including Liz Kendall, and Conservative medical MPs Andrew Murrison, Daniel Poulter and Phillip Lee.  Today the Commons will debate Lamb’s backbench Bill.

Prof Sir John Oldham, who chaired Labour’s 2013 Care Commission, backs the call, as does Royal College of GPs’ ex-President, Labour’s Dr Clare Gerada.

And it’s not just politicians on both sides calling for a brisk consensus.

40 charities, including British Red Cross, Mencap, Stroke Association, and Macmillan Cancer Support, wrote to the Prime Minister urging ‘politicians to put aside political differences and work together to face these challenges, otherwise it is the sick, frail and elderly in our country who will lose out.’ Their call was echoed by 2000 grassroots signatures collected by the nonpartisan NHS Survival.

Older commissions, such as Oldham, Barker, and Dilnot, have already identified the prescription we need. Yet we still need a new consensus to implement their work, not duplicate it.

It must generate the political will to genuinely fund and deliver that prescription over a decade. It must do this before the pace of social care and public health cuts makes delivery impossible.

And it must be rapid – finishing by this summer, not next year. Charities, the professions, and Parliament must then hold the Government’s feet to the fire to ensure recommendations are enacted, not left on dusty shelves.

As Dr Poulter argues, ‘We must build on the work of the Five Year Forward View and the Barker Commission, to urgently achieve a responsible long-term consensus now’.

Last April the Health Secretary promised this, albeit with ‘some terms and conditions’. He has already said he cannot back down from his near-impossible 7-day NHS electoral promises – so why ignore his pledge for consensus?

Health and care demand is expected to soar by 50% in the next decade, with only 10% growth in funding from current trends.

Every day the public bear the brunt of politicians lacking consensus. We must act now. As the Royal College of Surgeons warns, ‘for the sake of patients this long overdue debate with the public has to happen now

* Dr Mohsin Khan is an NHS psychiatrist. He is Vice-Chair of both Oxford East Liberal Democrats and Liberal Democrat Mental Health Association. He is also South Central Regional Policy Chair. He has commented on healthcare for BBC Breakfast, ITV Good Morning Britain, Sky News, and London Live.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

2 Comments

  • Mohsin this is a fine piece , we need to hear more from you about the work you do as a doctor in an area of great interest and tremendous concern to our party .The NHS is very flawed as a model , not least because as a population we are dependent on it , and therefore at the behest of government . Other models make people wholly dependent on private organisations . Neither work well , patients suffer. Countries that practice partnership everywhere , work best . The article shows such an approach in politics is best , too ! We massively underfund health care , whatever is said , we should have the best available . It can be done , we need to prioritise it . Just as we have to with mental health , as well , there is no separation, or should not be . Holism should be at the heart of of our Liberalism , the very essence of the balance between liberty , equality and community.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 28th Jan '16 - 10:34pm

    Well said Mohsin, I look forward to seeing you progress Health matters for EMLD as well.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Sep - 12:53am
    Stevan I see your point in this , but my view is if those like you or I or any of us who have ever...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 27th Sep - 12:20am
    The problem is, Lorenzo, that you and I and 97% of this Party have no influence to insert radical elements, new ways of working and...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Sep - 11:33pm
    A lot of good sense in the words above from Tony H, Stevan Rose and Tim Hill, different though they are in views. My view...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 26th Sep - 11:26pm
    Rebecca , very good to see you on here, you have not been regularly commenting , I liked your previous contributions and considerable knowledge on...
  • User AvatarStevan Rose 26th Sep - 11:09pm
    My apologies Katharine. If you read my posts you will know that I was making a comparison between the rotten boroughs that existed pre-1832 and...
  • User AvatarRebecca Hanson 26th Sep - 10:21pm
    It's worth also watching Tim's speech at 28 minutes :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIhazFpBp0Y