Tag Archives: NHS

The NHS is dying … it’s about the  workforce

While everyone is focused on the very real and acute cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine the NHS is quietly imploding, more staff leaving than joining and therefore services collapsing.

It’s not simply a matter of throwing more money at it, we are way past that stage, and as we learned from the Nightingale hospital fiasco, you can build all the hospitals you like but if there is no workforce to staff them, they are just so many white elephants.

The workforce is on its knees and many who stayed on or returned during the Covid crisis are now leaving or returning to retirement, others simply leaving because they are exhausted, increasing the strain on those left behind. The crisis is particularly acute in psychiatry and general practice, where services are collapsing just when they are needed most to deal with the fallout of Covid.

So the fact that there are 10 new medical schools should be good news, except that they will only add about another 1,000 doctors to the workforce annually and only in 5 years’ time, against a calculated shortfall of 15,000 annually. So you may be as surprised as I was to learn that 3 of those new schools; Chester, Brunel and Three Counties, will only be accepting private students from overseas this coming October, and why is that? – simply that the Treasury has not made funds  available to support home grown medical students, £35,000 each annually for the 3 clinical years of undergraduate training; yes, medical training is expensive. The government’s solution being to let these new medical schools admit overseas students instead, who bring with them £40,000 each a year in overseas fees.

Whilst that may be an attractive business model for the medical schools concerned it does nothing to address our own needs and exacerbates the workforce crisis into the future. Meanwhile applications from home-grown candidates have soared and many are being turned down, even though they have top grades and should have been able to expect medical school places.

I think you can agree with me that students coming from countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and India with that kind of money at their disposal, are most likely to be from wealthy, well-connected families, and are unlikely to be planning to make a long-term contribution to the NHS workforce or make the UK their permanent home. They may stay long enough to complete their postgraduate training but my guess is that they will be returning to privileged positions back home just as soon as they can.

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Dodds: GPs could be forced to leave Wales

Yesterday in the Senedd, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds requested that the Welsh Government issues a statement on the possibility that 80 or 160 overseas trainee GPs in Wales may be forced to leave the country.

The request came as the Lib Dems revealed that across the border in England, 6.2 million people waited over eight days for a GP appointment in February, up 9 per cent on the previous month.

A report by the Welsh BMA GPs committee earlier this year highlighted that current Home Office rules implemented by Priti Patel and the Conservatives mean that individuals must have worked for five years under a Skilled Workers Visa in order to be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILTR).

This could result in 80 out of this year’s 160 GP trainees in Wales not being eligible to stay in the country under ILTR because of limited work opportunities at Welsh GP practices that serve as established Skilled Worker visa sponsors.

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Cooper: NHS rocked by mental health tidal wave

The Liberal Democrats have warned the NHS is at breaking point after new figures uncovered a mental health crisis sweeping through staff across health services in the UK.

A Freedom of Information Request tabled by the Party to all NHS Hospital Trusts has revealed that there have been at least 8.3 million mental health sick days since 2017.

The number of mental health sick days has increased every year since 2017, with some Trusts seeing large increases during the pandemic years.

The terrible revelations show that in 2021 alone more than 2 million days were taken off sick by staff suffering from mental health issues – the equivalent of 6,041 years. Liberal Democrat analysis of the data taken from 67 Hospital Trusts shows that Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been hit, with a staggering 591,254 working days lost to mental illness.

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Mandatory staff vaccines – No apology to sacked care home staff…

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Not even an apology! – And I’m not referring to Boris Johnson’s statement on Sue Gray’s Report.

Boris did at least say the word “sorry”, even though it was an inadequate, half hearted “apology”. But Sajid Javid made no apology at all, when he made his statement in parliament announcing that the government was scrapping the policy of mandatory vaccines for NHS staff, and for staff in care homes and other care workers.

Around eighty thousand NHS staff would have been told, on February 3rd, that they would lose their jobs. Not for any wrongdoing or incompetence – many had an exemplary record over many years’ service – but just because they had declined to be vaccinated. Just for exercising their right to bodily autonomy, which had previously been accepted as a basic principle of medical ethics.

Around forty thousand care home staff had already been sacked, in November 2021. Care home managers were forced to sack excellent, much valued staff members, for no other reason than that they had made a decision not to be vaccinated. These care home staff found themselves without any income, just a few weeks before Christmas. Most of these people had been on very low incomes, and were unlikely to have much in the way of savings to fall back on.

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Javid snubs meeting with West Midlands ambulance trust – highlighting Tory neglect of North Shropshire NHS services

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The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ignored requests for a meeting with his local ambulance trust in the West Midlands, despite warnings that record delays are posing a “catastrophic risk” to patients in the region.

Board documents from the trust reveal that the Health Secretary was invited to a meeting over four months ago but has still not replied. It comes despite the local trust warning that record handover delays at the region’s hospitals are putting patients at risk of severe harm or even death, as it moved its risk rating to the highest possible level for the first time ever. The trust recently apologised to one 95-year old woman who was left waiting for 11 hours on the floor of her home for an ambulance with a suspected broken leg.

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Nearly two-thirds of Shropshire ambulances delayed at A&E – second worst performance in country

I am a health assistant in a GP practice in south Shropshire. We are working flat out to get everyone jabbed and catch up with the backlog of patients who had not recognised or reported their conditions during the long periods of lockdown and shielding. Further north in the county, the situation is no different and the county is getting worse with the onset of winter pressures.

GPs are overstretched across Shropshire. Hospitals are at capacity with 93% of adult general and acute beds occupied. Ambulance arrival times and transfer times are growing. Nearly two-thirds of 999 ambulances must wait for 30 minutes or more to hand over patients outside the county’s two A&Es. On one day recently, there were no ambulances available in the county. This is much worse than elsewhere and much worse than last year.

I am getting frightened by the growing delays in ambulances picking up patients transferring them into A&E. People in Shropshire needing time critical treatment have died while waiting for an ambulance or hospital transfer. This is a major issue in the North Shropshire by-election.

The handover times at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princes Royal Hospital A&Es are the second longest in England. Sixty three per cent of ambulances must wait for more than thirty minutes outside our A&Es before they can handover their patients.

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Daisy Cooper: Ambulances are on high alert across England

A month ago Daisy Cooper submitted a question to the Government, and she has only just received a reply. Her question was:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many ambulance trusts have moved into REAP Level 4 in the last six weeks; and how many in total are at REAP Level 4 as at 22 October 2021.

REAP = Resource Escalation Action Plan. Level 4 is the highest level and indicates Extreme Pressure.

The response did arrive after this prompt:

In the last six weeks, all 11 English ambulance trusts have been at or moved to REAP Level 4. On 22 October 2021, all 11 ambulance trusts were at REAP Level 4.

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Moran: Introduce Health Data Trust to protect private medical data

Today, at their Conference, the Liberal Democrats have backed ambitious plans to safeguard private health data.

The party is calling for the establishment of a five-point ‘Health Data Charter’, which will set out key tests for whether data sharing is in the interest of the public and the NHS.

They also propose a ‘Sovereign Health Data Trust’, which would bring together experts, clinicians and patient representatives to oversee the implementation and observance of the new charter.

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No need to break any election pledges to fix social care

So, the Government is to pour more and more money into the first aid camp at the bottom of the cliff rather than building a fence at the top.

Yesterday’s announcement on the funding for social care does nothing to enhance the quality of life of older people or reduce the demand for hospital treatment or long-term care. 4/5th of the expenditure of the NHS is on older people, there are 1.8m older people living in poverty, with a correlation between income and demand upon the NHS in all age groups.

When campaigning for the abolition of the “retirement age”, which was responsible for a great deal of depression amongst older people many of whom were forced into retirement and condemned to spending the rest of their lives in poverty, I advocated that people should go on paying National Insurance whilst ever they were working, not to squander on more of the same as the Government now intends, but to increase the basic State Pension to enhance the lives of older people and reduce the demand for long term care.

The Netherlands with the highest pension in Europe spends 60% of its health budget on older people: Britain, with one of the lowest state pensions spends 80%. Increasing the basic state pension in line with many other European Countries, could be self-financing (needing only upfront pump priming) with no need to raise National Insurance or any other tax, by reducing demand for both hospital treatment and long-term care and enabling those who do need long term care to contribute more from their income, whilst still retaining their personal allowance, with no need to take savings or capital into account.

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That 3% rise for NHS staff in England

Lib Dems have been quick to respond to pay rise of 3% to NHS staff in England. Munira Wilson is our Health & Social Care Spokesperson and here she is challenging the Government in the Commons BEFORE the pay rise was announced:

Only a hour later she was tweeting:

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Hancock: Emergent class of rulebreakers are undermining government

Will he go or will he stay?

Can Hancock survive a sneaky snog and buttock fondle that took place at a time when he was telling us all to social distance?

Matt Hancock survived Dominic Cumming’s torpedoes and hell has no fury like a political adviser scorned. Hancock has the prime minister’s backing. Well, Johnson has had his own jolly japes.

But the media are howling for Hancock’s resignation. His behaviour and his future is bound to dominate tomorrow’s political circuit. As Ed Davey said yesterday, the real issue is Matt Hancock’s competence in his role as health secretary. Agreed. But there is growing anger among those told to obey pandemic isolation rules while ministers and advisers routinely ignore them.

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NHS pay rise of a measly 1% is too little to reward the health heroes of our nation

We have stood on the streets and applauded our front line NHS staff. We have wondered at their resilience in the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes. We have sympathised with them when they have fallen ill and with their families when they have died.

The reward health service workers will get for their efforts is a measly 1% pay rise. Ministers seem not to recognise that those who have worked themselves into exhaustion, taken on extra shifts, faced danger every working day need a boost. With tax allowances frozen, the lowest paid staff and frontline nurses should at least get the 2.1% pay rise they were promised.

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Waiting for the all clear

It’s great news that our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers are storming forward with the UK’s vaccination programme. Still, I worry about people being lulled into a false sense of security once they have had their first and even second jab.

Most of us will have had, or be getting, the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine. It has an efficacy rate of 70 percent compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s 95 percent. These efficacy rates are based on the trials and mark the difference between those who had the vaccine and those who had a placebo (a solution that wasn’t the vaccine). If there’s no difference between the vaccine and placebo groups, the efficacy is zero. If none of those who became sick had been vaccinated, the efficacy is 100 percent.

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We need to talk about the Healthcare workforce – again

So what’s changed since my last piece for LDV on this ten months ago? – nothing and everything, in a phrase, it’s got much worse.

Last March the fear of an unknown, rapidly spreading and possible deadly virus, the prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed; inadequate ventilators and ITU beds, terrifying pictures from Italy of a modern health system crumbling in front of our eyes and our own government indecisive and floundering, with no plan and even less preparedness, galvanised the NHS workforce as never before in living memory. Things happened fast; the NHS workforce rose to the challenge, found the energy, carried on under almost impossible odds, and paid the ultimate price.

I won’t recite all the twists and turns, everyone knows them very well, except to say that you can build all the Nightingale hospitals you want, but if you don’t have the skilled workforce to staff them, they are pretty useless.

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Protect the NHS?

It is the second part of this Government strapline that causes me more than a little concern. “Protect the NHS”. To me, it is the one thing that successive Conservative Governments have failed to do. We only need to look back at those years of austerity to know just how much the NHS has been decimated.

My local hospital used to provide beds for over 600 patients and at extreme times could reach 650 and there were the staff to provide for the needs of those patients. But now it provides for fewer that 400 when pressed, but usually it is more likely to be about 360.

For many years under austerity the hospital’s budget was reduced by about 5% a year. And whilst those reductions were taking place the number of people for whom this would be their local hospital was on the increase.

It is an outstanding hospital and is proud of what it had managed to achieve in spite of the yearly reduction in funding and the consequent reductions in staff numbers as well.

It is a great credit to the NHS that it continues to provide healthcare for all our increasing communities but it is regrettable that successive Tory Governments have failed to provide the finances.

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Why can’t NHS screening services include trans patients?

NHS patients are regularly invited to screening tests for different conditions. The tests can be inconvenient or uncomfortable, but the evidence on screening clearly shows it identifies risks early, prevents disease, and saves lives. Patients are at greater risk if they don’t receive invitations, or receive the wrong information.

Trans patients can request to alter their gender marker and are given a new NHS number. Any gendered words are replaced with their new pronouns. However, this also changes their eligibility for screening programmes as many of these are gendered; men and women commonly receive different tests.

Trans patients may be given a leaflet about screening programmes and are invited to self-refer, and will receive no invitations other than those relevant to the gender marker on their NHS record. Therefore, for example, not all patients with a cervix are invited to cervical screening. Contrastingly, if a cis woman has a full hysterectomy, for example, their GP has a simple form to fill out to remove the patient from the cervical screening register as it is no longer relevant to her body. Trans patients should be included on screening registers that are relevant to their bodies.

Historic inequalities within healthcare for the LGBT+ community results in patients who are not comfortable in a healthcare setting. The LGBT Foundation, with projects such as Pride in Practice, is aiming to improve this, but whilst Public Health England (PHE) admit there are inequalities within services, they suggest population screening is inherently equitable. Yet, the issues they aim to improve barely mention gender inequality or LGBT+ communities.

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Christine Jardine’s Bill to give NHS staff right to stay in the UK to be debated on Friday

Our NHS is under more pressure than it has ever been. As I write, brave nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, health care assistants are putting in superhuman effort to keep people alive, to comfort them and their families when they can’t and to treat more critically ill people than they have ever had to at the same time before.

And all the time taking the risk that they could be next to be lying there struggling to breathe.

It’s exhausting. And it comes after many of them bust a gut during the first wave. Then they barely stopped to rest before trying to catch up with the routine procedures and tests that they had not been able to do.

After ten months of relentless pressure, many are at breaking point. They are seeing suffering on a scale that they had not imagined.

Every day on my social media, I hear about at least one person who I actually know in real life being admitted to hospital.

As I think of them and hope that they will soon be restored to good health, I think about the stressed health professionals and support staff treating them.

Many of those staff are not UK nationals. Those who aren’t EU citizens with the protections of settled status have the hellscape of our horrendous immigration system to navigate. Every so often, their visas will have to be renewed. That is a hellishly stressful and expensive process.

If you came in to the country on a spouse visa, that will set you back £1500. And you’ll have to pay it again to renew it after two and a half years. You also have to pay £624 PER YEAR in NHS surcharge.

So, that’s nearly 5 grand for the first five years. Then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. That will set you back another £2400.

We’re at pretty much £7,500. On a nurse’s salary? Are you having a laugh? And if you have kids who are not UK nationals, you have to pay for them too.

Right from the start of the pandemic, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has been trying to get the Government to give indefinite leave to remain to healthcare staff and their spouses and children.
This week, her Bill is debated reaches its next parliamentary stage. It says:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Indefinite leave to remain

    1. (1)  An eligible person has indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
    2. (2)  The Secretary must, on request from an eligible person, issue physical documentary proof of that indefinite leave to remain as soon as reasonably practicable.

(3) No fee may be charged for issuing a proof under subsection (2)./ol>

Simple. The right to stay for free for those who have been braving the pandemic, taking that risk, and their families.

Here she is introducing the Bill back in September:

The party has released a campaign video and we can expect more in the next few days:

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Should patients be charged for missed GP appointments?

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With millions across the UK calling for a pay rise for our health heroes, maybe it’s also time we start charging serial offenders abusing one of the fundamental parts of our NHS, the GP appointments system. Our NHS knows no bounds and rightly so; the vast majority of people are proud of our National Health Service, yet despite its well-regard it is not being treated as well as it should.

To my surprise, last night while scrolling through Twitter and being led, as usual, down the rabbit hole of the online world, I came across a statistic. Not only was it shocking, but I was further flurried by the fact that not one of my fellow politically enthused friends were aware of it. According to NHS England, 15 million GP appointments are wasted every year. These vital slots of our beloved Health Service are costing millions, due to tactless laziness and lack of consideration for our supposed national treasure. Equating to 1 in 20 GP appointments being missed, it begs the question, did we really appreciate our NHS before this crisis?

Of course, from time to time, other more important things come into fruition and so previously booked appointments can’t be attended. This, however, can be resolved by a simple cancellation over the phone and the rebooking of a new appointment. But, the serious and costly problem prevails when patients fail to follow through with a cancellation, not making the surgery aware of their non-attendance, and thus taking up an appointment that could have otherwise been booked by a different patient. And the costs are not small either. With each appointment costing an average of £30, over £216 million pounds are wasted every year. Not to mention, this £216 million pounds lost could pay for the annual salary of 2,325 full time GPs or provide 58,320 hip replacement operations.

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Civil Liberties and the NHS App

The NHS has launched a tracing App for trialling in the Isle of Wight. How does it measure up against the civil liberties checklist that I authored on Lib Dem Voice on 15th April, along with some excellent additions within the comments?

First, the positives:
I urged that opting in should be voluntary. It is. A liberal society works best by consent.
It is good news that this is an NHS App, rather than being owned by the central government or by a private company. Moreover, as the NHS has overwhelming public support, this makes it more likely that there will be significant uptake of the App.

It is to be welcomed that the App uses Bluetooth rather than GPS. It records only our phones’ proximity to other phones, rather than pinpointing our precise locations at the moment of proximity.

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We must revive Britain’s history of bold policy

Coronavirus has blown open many of the issues contemporary society faces as a whole.

The UK Government has acted radically in the last few weeks. The furlough scheme has guaranteed many workers pay, and a huge effort has provided support for charities and businesses. Yet many have been left behind.

Those laid off have joined record applicants for unemployment benefit, as we look on from the precipice of the worst economic crash since the 1930s. Key workers have emerged as national heroes, but their low-pay has highlighted imbalances in our societal values. High earners continue to work from the safety of their homes, and companies are still paying shareholders, whilst relying on government bailouts to pay their staff. It is clear the government has not acted radically enough.

Yet Britain has an established history of putting radical thoughts into practice.

In 1941, the wartime coalition government began to envision how British society should look after the war. The “homes for heroes” scheme had rewarded soldiers’ service in the First World War with proper housing, and it was felt a similar repayment for sacrifices in this conflict was due. By 1942, three long years before the war would end, the report was finished. Inside was the blueprint for the modern welfare state, which aimed to pool the resources of every working citizen to maintain a standard of living “below which no one should be allowed to fall”.

George Orwell commented at the time that “it is something of an achievement even to be debating such a thing in the middle of a desperate war in which we are still fighting for survival”. It would take 6 years until the crowning glory of these reforms was unveiled with the official opening of New Park Hospital in Manchester, the first NHS hospital. Offering free healthcare to all at the point of use, the NHS remains unique around the world.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

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‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity’ (A tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens)

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are in an unprecedented time. I continue to work for the NHS but I am also a member of the Sedgemoor district council. I came across doctors and nurses risking it all to deliver the best for their patients. I also see the local communities rally up to support one another. Crises had, indeed, brought out some of the best in us.

The Government would claim that we are well prepared for this pandemic but the reality may tell a different story. We are still falling short in testing for healthcare workers and screening for the general population. The British Medical Association suggested that in some parts of the country Personal Protective Equipment is running dangerously low. Hospital doctors also suggested that we are low in stock for certain medications such as propofol. Some would also argue that we were too late to implement the lockdown and gave up too early on contact tracing.

Professor Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine would suggest that The UK is an outlier(£) in terms of its ‘open border policy’.

With families and people losing their loved ones, suffering from an uncertain financial future and a unpredictable impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing, this could be one of the worst of times.

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Public scrutiny of lockdown exit strategy

The Government must publish its “exit strategy” for easing the “lock down” for public scrutiny to avoid repeating past mistakes and ensure that when the time comes it is ready and it does not overlook anything or anyone.

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Clap For Carers Must Be Followed Up With Action

We have all witnessed or better still participated in the clap for carers initiative which has grown out of the current crisis. I am sure that the carers themselves are lifted by our support. However what they really need is practical help, something that the government has been slow in coming up with. 

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Going back to normal would be the worst outcome of this crisis

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This global pandemic, and the consequent unprecedented changes to how we live, has laid bare the inequality that exists in our society.

Covid-19 has given inequality a human face when previously it was understood by many in the form of stats and figures, news reports, policy documents, while many more were oblivious entirely.

Workers who have often been considered to be at the bottom of the hierarchy – perhaps because their job is stigmatised for supposedly being unskilled or low paid or not requiring qualifications – are now completely essential to get us through this crisis. Retail staff, cleaners, public transport operators, fruit pickers, delivery drivers, nurses, social care staff, hospital and GP staff, refuse collectors (plus many more hard workers) are now carrying a terrible burden for the collective good.

They have always been our key workers, we just never recognised them.

These workers are facing the virus head on, often with little or no protection, to carry out their essential jobs to keep all of us going. They are also on the lowest wages, in the most insecure financial positions; their industries have often faced years of stagnant wages, staff shortages, underfunding, belligerent companies.

Two examples stand out to me: nurses and retail staff.

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We need to talk about the healthcare workforce

As a nation, we have spent the last month endlessly talking about PPE, testing and even ventilators, remorselessly picking over the technical details of things which most people still do not understand. The government is pleased for us to do this because it keeps us off the one topic they have no answer for; the elephant in the room of a totally inadequate healthcare workforce stretched to breaking point. Even with all the goodwill in the world, re-calling retired doctors and nurses doesn’t solve it.
There are many good reasons why the NHS is supposed to run at 85% of capacity; one is so that there is then some slack in the system for unforeseen emergencies. That has not happened in the last few years as successive Conservative governments have squeezed the service harder and harder driving capacity dangerously close to 95% and beyond, not addressed staffing shortages at all levels and reduced the bed numbers by too much (by at least 7,000) Eventually acknowledged by Jeremy Hunt himself towards the end of his 7+year tenure as Secretary of state for Health and Social Care.

The summer ‘respite’ for the health service didn’t happen last year or the year before, or the year before that, and the workforce has remained thousands short across the board; GPs, hospital specialists and trainees, nurses and care workers, result; an exhausted workforce close to burn-out. Add to this the wanton neglect of an able and willing EU workforce over 100,000 which was pushed out by a hostile environment as Brexit became a reality at the end of 2019 and here we are reaping the whirlwind.

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NHS – indefinite leave to remain

It’s not just non-British NHS workers who should get indefinite leave to remain.

Our party has rightly come out and argued that doctors, nurses and paramedics at the frontline who are not British citizens should not just have their visas extended by one year (as reported in the Independent, but be given an indefinite leave to remain in the UK. This offer is to be welcomed, but we need to go further. There are many community care workers working unselfishly with disabled and elderly people in their own homes, community centers and retirement centres throughout the country who have come from …

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27 November 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people
  • Lib Dems: Trump to profit from Brexit Britain
  • Lib Dems – Immigration detention must be absolute last resort
  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome votes at 16
  • Leaked documents show US offered PR advice to UK over chlorinated chicken

Lib Dem poster attacks Johnson for lying to Queen, Parliament and people

The Liberal Democrats will today unveil a poster attacking Boris Johnson for lying to the Queen, Parliament and the people.

Another poster will show Boris Johnson flanked by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, stating: “Brexit is good for …

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Catch-up: 24 November 2019 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

Gotten myself into a bit of a backlog position, I’m afraid – the price you pay for going to St Albans, it seems…

  • Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools
  • Lib Dems: McDonnell refuses to come clean on Brexit
  • EU staff at Johnson’s local NHS trust feel “anxiety” over Brexit
  • Lib Dems: Tory manifesto is built on a lie

Lib Dems to invest 7 billion to save our schools

The Liberal Democrats have today announced an extra £7 billion over five years from the Party’s infrastructure budget for new school buildings and repairs to keep up with rising pupil numbers.

The funding will …

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US trade deal will mean higher drugs bills for NHS

President Trump is apparently to be told by Boris Johnson that the NHS is “off the table” in any negotiations with the UK Government over trade, but there are other ways in which a trade deal can be exploited by the USA, which will inevitably result in a higher drugs bill for the NHS.  

In February 2019, the USA published its specific negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK.  They include the following: “Seek provisions governing intellectual property rights that reflect a standard of protection similar to that found in U.S. law”.  Intellectual property rights were then the subject of the US-UK trade discussions on 25th July 2019 (which are the subject of redacted documents produced after a freedom of information request to the DTI).  In the context of medicines, the USA will therefore no doubt be asking the UK to implement a link (in law) between pharmaceutical patents and the drug regulatory approval process (“patent linkage”), such as the Americans have.  

The US experience shows that patent linkage can seriously delay the time at which cheaper generic drugs enter the market, whilst any patent disputes are resolved.  It is not supported in the European Union and we currently have no such system in the UK.  Bear in mind that a generic drug may be priced at a small fraction of the price of the same drug before generic entry and one gets an approximate flavour of the millions currently saved by the NHS through its use of generic pharmaceuticals.  

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Lib Dems will invest £35 billion and stop Brexit to protect NHS

The Liberal Democrats have today set out their plans to protect the NHS, by stopping Brexit and investing an extra £35 billion in the health service and social care over the next five years.

The Liberal Democrats would raise £7 billion a year in additional revenue, ring-fenced for the NHS and social care services, by adding a penny on income tax. On top of this, the party has announced a £10 billion capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings to bring them into the 21st Century.

The Liberal Democrats have also set out plans to tackle the severe …

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