The Dacorum Patients group meeting held last week in Adeyfield was filled to capacity and evidenced real concern for the current and future healthcare of our community.
The group proposed the building of a new super hospital on a more central and accessible site. I am sure we would all wish for this but in reality it is very unlikely to materialise in a political climate of austerity and cuts to public services. The meeting highlighted Watford Hospital’s current rating by CQC (Care Quality Commission) as inadequate. It is worth remembering that staff shortages and debt, largely caused by the cost of agency staffing, are accountable for the hospital’s predicament.
Our hospital, along with 75% of hospitals nationally are in debt and being asked to make further cuts to their budgets.
Britain’s spending on our health service is falling by international standards and by 2020 will be £43 billion less per year than the average spent by our neighbours in Europe according to research by the Kings Fund. They also point out that as a percentage of GDP we are a lowly 13th out of 15 of the original EU members, behind Greece, Italy and Slovenia.
This government are masters of spin but they are unable to disguise the fact that this has been the longest and deepest squeeze on NHS finances in a generation.
It must be remembered that Labour kept their promise of raising NHS funding to that of our European partners as a percentage of GDP and this remained the situation in 2009. Labour also understand that social care is a vital part of the equation, if there is insufficient home care and rehabilitation for our elderly and vulnerable then hospitals are left picking up the pieces. Sadly there are more cuts to social care coming our way. Most council leaders are unable to meet the demands despite the proposed 2% increases to council tax.
Consider the above alongside the cuts in nurse training places by the coalition, the current Tory policy of removal of bursaries to nurses, the almighty mess Jeremy Hunt is making with the junior doctor’s negotiations and the creeping privitisation of NHS services.