When Liz Truss becomes prime minister, England’s NHS is at historically catastrophic levels on virtually every measurable measure.
You are not meeting your own goals for waiting times for any of the emergency services, routine operations, or cancer.
The last prime minister to inherit a health service that met these goals was David Cameron, 12 years ago.
COVID-19 has made some problems worse, but for most indicators there were already signs of decline before the pandemic. In fact, every Conservative leader since Cameron has been given an NHS worse off than his predecessor.
accident and emergency
A&E’s wait times are now twice as bad as they were when Boris Johnson became prime minister three years ago.
Johnson inherited a health service where waiting times were already five times worse than when his schoolmate Cameron took over in 2010.
After a patient has waited to be seen at A&E, they may face another wait until a hospital bed becomes available before they are admitted. This is known as “tram waiting”.
Tram waits of more than four hours used to be rare, but they became more common during the 2010s and have doubled since the pandemic.
When Johnson took office, the number had already increased 15 times since 2010. Last month, there were 35 times more of these waits than when Cameron became prime minister.
Waits longer than 12 hours used to be statistically non-existent. Now there are almost 30,000 a month.
It’s a similar story when it comes to cancer, one of the most critical diseases in terms of treatment.
The number of people who have to wait more than two months to start treatment after receiving an urgent referral from their GP is more than three times higher than when Mr Cameron became leader.
As A&E expects, it slipped throughout the 2010s, almost doubling in the time between Cameron and Johnson moving to No. 10. It has almost doubled again since the pandemic.
The “waiting list”: the number of people who have been referred for treatment by a consultant but have not yet started that treatment, is at an all-time high. No leader has inherited a shorter waiting list than his predecessor since Gordon Brown was replaced by David Cameron.
The number of people who have been waiting for more than a year has multiplied by a barely believable 234 times since the pandemic began, having been virtually eliminated before.
The current figure is still lower than it was at the end of Tony Blair’s term.
But in this at least there are historical and recent precedents for improvement.
Since February, the NHS has managed to cut two-year waits to almost zero after they topped 20,000 for the first time. The next target is to eliminate waits of more than 18 months by April 2023: NHS England says they are down by more than a third since January.
The waiting list is one of the few areas where comparable numbers go back further than 2010, and we can see that under Gordon Brown great strides were made in reducing the longest waits.
Adrian Kay, professor of government at the Australian National University, says a combination of increased funding and “political commitment to aggressive target-based policy” contributed to the reduction in waiting times under New Labour.
“Waits that often exceeded 18 months in 2000 were reduced to no more than 18 weeks in 2010,” he said.
“Hospitals that failed to meet key targets were rated zero and publicly ‘named and shamed’ as failures. The possible sanction for hospital CEOs was losing their jobs.
“It was the first time in the history of the NHS that there was a clear line of sight in terms of responsibility from the prime minister to the hospital chief executives in charge of street-level health care delivery.”
Funding stagnated when Cameron was elected in 2010, having grown through the New Labor years.
It has risen again since the pandemic, although the contractions in GDP during the pandemic and during the 2008 financial crisis mean that not as much additional money came into the NHS during those periods as may appear from the chart below.
The number of personnel hired under Mr. Johnson was higher than under his predecessors, although fewer for ambulance personnel.
The figures for ambulance wait times aren’t as old as some of the other figures we’ve quoted, but 999 callers who have had heart attacks or strokes are now waiting half an hour longer than they were before the pandemic.
Miriam Deakin, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, said: “While the number of staff has increased, it has not kept pace with the scale of demand facing the service and as pressures mount, more needs to be done. more to retain staff.
“There is a severe staffing shortage across the NHS with a staggering 132,000 jobs across the health system remaining unfilled, and many more in social care.”
NHS Providers speaks on behalf of all NHS hospital, mental health, community and ambulance services in England.
At Mrs. Truss’s house first speech as prime ministerhe said fixing the NHS was his third priority, behind economic growth and protecting people from rising energy prices.
“I will make sure people can get the medical appointments and NHS services they need. We will put our Health Service on a firm footing,” he said Tuesday on the steps of No. 10.
Johnson made similar commitments in his first speech as leader, at the same venue three years earlier: “My job is to make sure you don’t have to wait 3 weeks to see your GP…and to ensure that money for the NHS really gets to the front line.”
The number of staff employed at GPs increased under both Theresa May and Johnson, but the number of GPs hardly changed. The number of citations has increased but it is harder to see a GP face to faceand access to GPs in the most deprived areas has decreased.
If Mrs. Truss is to deliver on her promises in time for the next election, she must turn around 12 years of decline in the next two.
And it must do this without additional funding from a national insurance increase announced under Johnson’s leadership, which he has vowed to reverse.
Richard Murray, chief executive of the King’s Fund, an independent health care charity, said Ms Truss and Therese Coffey, her new health secretary, have “a matter of weeks to decide what short-term emergency action to take to provide at least some additional support. during what promises to be a terrible winter for patients and staff.
“Without urgent action, we can expect ambulance delays to drag on further and more and more people to be at risk of harm in overcrowded A&E departments as the rising cost of living and winter begin to set in.” affect, which could lead to more spikes in demand,” he said.
Ms Deakin said: “The NHS has been through a ten-year financial squeeze, the longest and strictest in its history, leaving a legacy of financial challenges.
“This includes significant backlogs in care, with waiting lists growing before the pandemic and continuing to grow since then with significant pressure on ambulance services and urgent and emergency care, and mental health and community services.
“Problems in an overburdened and underfunded social care system continue to have serious consequences for the NHS.
“The failure of successive governments to capture the value of social care is gaining traction and delivery delays continue to be a huge problem for hospitals unable to discharge patients who are well enough to continue their recovery at home or closer to home, largely due to understaffing and funding in social care.
The Conservative Party did not respond to our request for comment.
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