“A wholly preventable NHS crisis”

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For weeks now, our Health spokesperson, Daisy Cooper, has been energetically raising the issue of the crisis in the NHS on a daily basis. She has been calling for the Prime Minister to declare a major incident and to recall Parliament.

Here is today’s tweet.


In a press release she has outlined the Liberal Democrat’s Winter Plan for Ambulances.

  1. Fix Social Care. Bring forward a fully funded programme to get people who are medically well enough discharged from hospital and set up with appropriate social care and support. This will allow people to leave hospital sooner and make more space available for new arrivals.The Government’s current attempt at this through the Adult Social Care Discharge Fund is not good enough, as the funds will come from existing NHS budgets putting even more pressure on other services. It will also not be deployed in full until the end of January.
  2. More hospital beds. In addition to getting people out of hospital so that they get care in a more comfortable setting, the number of beds in hospitals needs to be increased to end excessive handover delays for ambulances, caused by a lack of bed capacity. Any new beds must come with increases in staff to care for those extra patients.
  3. Community mental health support. Expand mental health support services to get people the appropriate care they need and reduce the number of call-outs for ambulances for mental health reasons. Learning from hospitals that have set up ‘emergency mental health departments’, will not only get people more appropriate care but relieve pressure on A&Es and ambulances.
  4. Paramedic recruitment drive. Launch a campaign to retain, recruit and train paramedics and other ambulance service staff. Like all health and care services, it needs to be properly staffed.
  5. Ambulance delay transparency. Pass my Ambulance Waiting Times Bill into law which would require accessible, localised reports of ambulance response times to be published. This would ensure that ‘hot spots’ with some of the longest waiting times can be identified routinely. 12-hour waits at A&E should also be published from arrival at hospital rather than the ‘decision to admit’ as is current practice so that the true scale of the problem is clear for all to see.

She adds:

This is a national crisis. Nobody should lose a loved one because the Government was asleep on the job.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • Mick Taylor 8th Jan '23 - 12:48pm

    Yes, it was all preventable, but we LibDems have to acknowledge our part in creating this crisis. We swallowed hook, line and sinker the need for austerity in 2010 and, as Ros Atkins pointed out in his BBC piece about the NHS, cut the annual increase in NHS funding from 6.6% under Labour to 1.1% during the coalition. Even this government has increased spending by 2.2% pa. Not content with that we agreed to a wholly unnecessary reorganisation that debilitated the NGS and cost us valuable activists.
    Baring the soul is not easy, but acknowledging mistakes and learning from them is vital if we are not to repeat them.

  • Mel Borthwaite 8th Jan '23 - 1:01pm

    Daisy Cooper has done part of the job but needs to finish it if the Liberal Democrats are to be taken seriously on this matter. So, Daisy, please give us the details of the total cost of those measures and tell us how the Liberal Democrats would pay for it. Would the Party pay for this extra spending by increasing taxation – if so, which taxes – or by cutting spending elsewhere, or by increasing borrowing?

    As an aside, Mick Taylor makes valid points that merely add to the case that more details of costings, and how they will be paid for, are required if the Liberal Democrats are to have any credibility on this subject.

  • Graham Jeffs 8th Jan '23 - 1:06pm

    Almost as an aside, the banal nature of some expenditure that is incurred makes one query whether some NHS managers have any common sense. Count-down clocks…..a certain London hospital has invested in a myriad number of these to remind staff that there is a new computer system (the previous one now being two years old) being introduced in a couple of months time. Priorities?

  • James Fowler 8th Jan '23 - 2:24pm

    Endlessly shouting that there is a crisis doesn’t really change anything. One feature of crises which is very difficult for people to accept is that once they’ve started (been noticed!) then what happens next is more or less baked in. Think of the Titanic hitting the iceberg with too few lifeboats, or of Chernobyl once the ‘safety test’ exercise started, or of the Challenger disaster once lift off had been initiated.

    So the NHS is in deep crisis and there is very little immediately useful which be done, though it is possible to make things worse. In the long term there are grounds for optimism – the crisis itself might prompt the fundamental re-think that the system so obviously needs. I definitely don’t mean privatisation, but I do mean some hard thinking over treating vs. preventing

  • Carolyn Ramsbottom 8th Jan '23 - 2:35pm

    Talk of “fixing social care” is a great tag line but what does it actually mean. How will we fill (and pay for) the large numbers of staff vacancies in the care sector? Where will these people come from when you can earn more fill shelves in a supermarket than you can working in the care sector. Where are the plans for a proper career structure which will encourage more people into the sector.
    The same with the idea of “more hospital beds”, how will they be funded and who will staff them.? Many hospitals have beds and wards they cannot use because of a lack of staff, and this means not just doctors and nurses but cleaners, porters, catering staff along with other paramedics such as phsyios, pharmacists, path lab staff etc etc.

  • 3 years ago, it was possible to locate, equip and staff nightingale hospitals during the covid peak. Could not a lower key variant of this be done to accommodate patients who need care but do not need to be in critical care hospitals – a bit like the cottage hospitals of old? This would take pressure off A&Es while allowing social care to be properly sorted at last.

  • Jenny Barnes 8th Jan '23 - 5:15pm

    A good start would be to give medical staff a decent pay rise. Then fund councils properly to pay for social care. Fund with increased income tax. I’ve seen calculations that say that all the public sector claims could be covered with 18 £billion…cancel hs2 if you don’t like tax increases.

  • I agree we need to identify funding streams. We need to find ways of making available information needed to our members to ensure formed decision making for the party. We might start with he cost of leaving the EU and our plans on how to rebuild a successful trade relationship with the EU. We also need to look at the money which has flowed through London, money where it was not clear who the beneficial owners were. Except that a great deal of money was from Russia. We need to look at ending corruption in finance and stop behaving as if it was all totally acceptable,

  • Mick Taylor 9th Jan '23 - 6:20am

    Far too many in our party are regurgitating the myth about affordability and funding streams. A rich country like the UK with its own fiat currency can spend the necessary funds needed to give medical staff decent pay rises and provide the beds and equipment our NHS needs. [Doubters should read The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton]. Of course we would also have to make sure we take measures to control inflation. And yes, in both the short and medium term taxes would have to rise and this should be from those with the broadest shoulders. This is why Tory ministers claim we can’t afford to pay for a properly funded NHS, because it would be their bankers and funders on whom the increased burden of taxation would fall. We could afford to fund the NHS when incomes and national wealth were much lower than now and can afford to do so now. We could also save a huge amount of money by ending all the privatisation measures introduced by Labour and the Tories and scrapping the so-called internal market in the NHS. Let the NHS run all its services in house, and stop lining the pockets of private providers.
    That would be a radical alternative to the Lab/Con status quo.

  • David Garlick 9th Jan '23 - 11:59am

    This crisis or at least the increasing need for NHS care and social care was known about 3 decades ago but nothing was done. The short termist approach of UK governments is a major issue and yet another which would benefit from proportional representaion, especially if that led to coalition (wash my mouth out) governance. The knowledge that outright control was unlikely would enable a longer term approach to be taken and avoid the ‘Oh dear! We have a crisis to be dealt with’ being such a regular feature in the UK

  • David Garlick 9th Jan '23 - 12:00pm

    I should have added that our approach needs to address the issue of additional funding and taxation if we are to be taken seriously.

  • Head in hands ! Its rather depressing to read that there is nothing wrong with the NHS that more money won’t sort, so all we need to do is borrow or tax. We can hardly expect the average Joe to pay more tax in the middle of a cost of living crisis, but we can always tax bankers and rich folk. I mean, I’m sure the finance and banking industry contributes very little to the exchequer and it wouldn’t matter a jot if they all relocated to Paris, or Frankfurt. Or maybe we can bleed the “non doms”, the Labour Party’s version of Loaves and Fishes ? I find such low resolution thinking very dispiriting and even Wes Streeting has worked out that there are some deep seated issues that need to be looked at.
    So here are a couple of ideas. As Ian Shires suggests, lets shift the long term focus towards prevention as well as (not instead of) curing the sick. And lets look at countries that have better health outcomes that the NHS, Germany, Netherlands, Norway etc., and just copy what they do, in terms of both delivery and funding ? The basis of the NHS is that care is given according to need and free at the point of delivery., but It will take some time to build capacity bit if we can use private sector capacity in the short to medium term then that has to be considered.

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jan '23 - 2:30pm

    “We can hardly expect the average Joe to pay more tax in the middle of a cost of living crisis,”
    “but we can always tax bankers and rich folk.”
    And the tax avoiders stuffing their mooney into overseas tax havens etc.

  • Steve Trevethan 9th Jan '23 - 6:19pm

    “The NHS was created at a time of great austerity (much more severe than that which the bankers and their neoliberal friends have inflicted upon the people of this country) and belongs to an era in which the government and the vast majority of people believed in the sharing of vulnerability and the need to care of all.” ( From NHS SOS How the NHS was betrayed – and how we can save it) Please do read it!
    Mr Taylor is correct to say that money is not the problem. The real problems are the deviousness of neoliberal politicians and the apathy/gullibility of the electorate.

  • George Thomas 9th Jan '23 - 6:53pm

    There’s a thread on twitter written by GP close to retirement which says the best of times in NHS were 2008, there’s another thread which said this cost-of-living crisis can be traced back to 2004.

    There’s a truth to tell which hammers the Tory party base on what they’ve done over 12 years, ignoring obvious problems on the horizon to settle Eton-based rivalry or cozy up to billionaires using UK as a play thing, but as the first response in this comment section makes clear, it’s not just the Tory party who have had role to play in our current crisis.

    I am very happy that Lib Dems are coming up with concrete solutions going forward.

  • Peter Watson 9th Jan '23 - 9:24pm

    @George Thomas “There’s a truth to tell which hammers the Tory party base on what they’ve done over 12 years.”
    Unfortunately, the Lib Dems can probably only get away with hammering what the Tories have done over the last seven of those! 🙁

  • I have great respect for our Doctors and Nurses
    but the fact is that the NHS is not an efficient system and it is not the envy of the world. The constant platitudes we hear prevent frank discussion about the need for reform.

    Very few countries have similar systems i.e. a service that is entirely funded through general taxation. The most efficient and fair systems are social insurance based eg France, Germany, Denmark and Australia. Is is time that David Laws proposals in the Orange Book were dusted off?

  • Jenny Barnes 10th Jan '23 - 7:35am

    The Lansley reforms aren’t looking so clever now.

  • Peter Martin 10th Jan '23 - 11:30am

    “Mr Taylor is correct to say that money is not the problem.”

    No, but resources could be. It’s always about available resources. If we want more doctors and nurses we have to recruit and train more and this could take several years.

    In the short term, we need to make sure that the working conditions in the NHS aren’t so intolerable that our medical staff don’t burn out. Extra money for increased wages and salaries, in this respect can help but it isn’t a complete solution.

  • With respect to Mr Martin creating the sort of resources the NHS needs requires the government to allocate money for training, equipment and the rest. It is lack of cash that prevents universities and colleges from increasing the number of medical staff they train and stops them providing increased facilities for the purpose. The government can always afford to do this and we, amongst most political parties have blindly accepted the ‘Deficit Myth’, the Laffer Curve and the theory of disincentives and cut taxes for the rich. When I started work the basic rate of income tax was 33% and the top rate 97%. Since then we’ve seen more and more attempts to cut income tax and instead put it on consumption which let’s the rich off the hook and clobbers the poor. Long past time for our party to abandon the status quo and sort this mess out.

  • Jason Connor 10th Jan '23 - 4:04pm

    It must be very demoralising working for the NHS these days. Every where you turn, on here, radio talk shows, TV, newspapers there are negative headlines. Semi privatisation of the NHS espoused by the Orange Bookers, many of whom lost their seats in the Nick Clegg days, is not the answer and Social Liberals will oppose these ideas. It does seem to me that shortage of staffing, recruitment and retention and working conditions are the main issues that need to be addressed. I speak to many people from other European countries who admire our inclusive system and are not obsessed with outcomes. Pay rises should be realistic and affordable and the government and Labour party even, are right to recognise this. A & E should not be mis-used by some patients to request prescriptions instead of using their GPs. Some of the staffing problem is caused by Brexit and EU healthcare nationals leaving the UK, but many of us knew that would happen. I must be living in la la land I never have a problem getting a same day GP appointment at a busy inner London practice. Finally as someone who uses the NHS very often for crohns and cancer, I have nothing but admiration for all you do and will always be grateful for the treatment I have had from my GP and all the hospitals I attend.

  • Peter Hirst 11th Jan '23 - 3:47pm

    At least we’re beginning to have a conversation about our health service. As well as increasing supply we should reduce demand until the two meet. Educating the public from school better about health and its maintenance is essential. We need to reform the culture around health so demands are realistic, it becomes most non-political and we all strive to make the system work, certainly not withholding labour.

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