Steve Baker - room for improvement

Letter to Bucks Free Press in response to Steve Baker's editorial on the NHS.

Dear Editor

Wycombe Labour is a positive, forward-looking, and increasingly youthful constituency party.  So our response to Steve Baker’s editorial in the Bucks Free Press last week is one of encouragement.  He wants better end- of- life care, better mental health provision, more investment in the NHS and more proactive care for elderly patients.  Yes, we want these too.

Steve says he is going to demand consistently high quality and safe urgent care for Wycombe.  We will be right behind him on this, whenever he starts demanding.  

 He says the NHS was heralded by the Commonwealth Fund as the best healthcare system in the world.   We are delighted to say he is right.  In 2011, the year on which the Fund’s report was based, the NHS was indeed the best.  We would like to thank Steve for reminding everyone that the Labour Party can be justly proud of handing over the safest, most cost-effective healthcare system in the world. 

 But that’s about as far as we can go with the encouragement because what we need now are not Tory aspirations; we need delivery.    And it is increasingly clear that Tory health policies are failing patients. The waiting list is at a seven-year high, A&E departments are in crisis and the cancer treatment target has been continually missed. 

Locally, the Marlow GP practice has put out a public apology for failing to provide timely appointments because of lack of funding.  The NHS Trusts are struggling with vacancies and too many agency staff.

The provision of local urgent care is in chaos.  In February, the Clinical Commissioning Groups were going to put the contract for the Minor Injuries and Illnesses Unit out to tender.  By June, the existing contract, which has never been put out to tender, was extended for the second time. 

The contract is held by a private sector company largely owned and controlled by Care UK, a company exposed by ITV as manipulating compliance with its targets, providing insufficient staff and medicine, and failing to check the identity of its staff. 

It is about time we got high quality and safe urgent care – and it is about time it was provided by the public sector.

Linda Derrick
Wycombe Labour, Health spokesperson. 

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