As we have seen in the first few days of 2015 political discourse, the National Health Service will be a defining issue at May's General Election and the two main legacy parties have failing records on both issues. In Wales we have seen the continued demise of the NHS under Labour, with half of Welsh patients waiting over six weeks for a MRI scan and over 40% of people waiting over six weeks for an ultrasound. We cannot allow Labour to get their hands on the English NHS again. The people of England and Wales deserve a better NHS, an NHS that is centred on patients, not politicians.
In Greater Manchester the failures of the Conservatives and Labour on the NHS are glaringly obvious. Every one of the Greater Manchester hospitals failed to meet their A&E targets. Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport stands out as really struggling. This hospital is close to my heart as it's near where I grew up and where I am standing for parliament as a UKIP candidate this year. Stepping Hill saw over a quarter of A&E patients not admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours, even by politically driven targets it is failing and this is just the canary in the coal mine. With almost half of staff in the NHS not clinically trained it is clear that middle management needs to be cut, senior nurses put back on the shop floor and more funds found to train more nurses, doctors and far more physios. These are the people struggling the most.
The four hour wait target at A&E was introduced by Labour to win votes, not to get more people seen. Labour fixed the targets but not the problem. The problem still exists. Each hospital complex needs to be looked at innovatively and local solutions found. In Stockport, one way that could help combat A&E's problems is to move the Mastercall walk in centre into the hospital to save money. It will also ease the strain on A&E and allow them to deal with serious cases that need to be prioritised. The main reason that people aren't being seen within four hours nationally is due to the lack of beds. A big factor in a lack of beds is that most people can't be discharged on the weekend after 1pm on a Saturday because the pharmacist's finish for the weekend, so if a ward round finishes at 2pm, nurses cannot get the medication to discharge the patients till Monday lunchtime!
Already in Sheffield they have changed the way they assess elderly patients from A&E; so many more now go home the same day. Why are we not sharing these innovations across the NHS? I don't want Stockport Stepping Hill paying for management consultants, I want it to fund X-prizes to reward teams who innovate and deliver quality.
We need to see a change to the present culture, with a 24-hour hospital working to stop the blockage of beds. The price of keeping an elderly person in a bed is £300 a day, so sending people home on the weekend would go some way to covering the costs of having pharmacists and physios working all weekend.
I cannot stress how poorly the NHS has treated physiotherapy over the years, yet bad backs, knees, chests keep people in A&E and medical units from going home and doctors have told me physios are going unemployed while we fly doctors and nurses in from India and Spain. For many short stay and intermediate care wards I think physios should be running them, calling the shots and having doctors and nurses work with them. Bold yes, but with an ageing population we need to be. This is not rhetoric, this is about changing a service that is being run the wrong way and is increasingly stuck in the past.
At Wythenshawe hospital we have a huge problem courtesy of Labour. We could be spending more funds on care if it were not for Labour burdening it with a PFI deal that we're still paying off as taxpayers, now worth over one billion pounds. This is money that should be used to help hire more physios and pharmacists, not paying off Labour's privatisation deals. It's not just PFI deals though, Labour in 2006 planned closed Rochdale A&E, and we lost Trafford last year putting more and more strain on other hospitals, each one falling like a domino after the other.
Labour have a catastrophic track record on the NHS, an indefensible record, they do not have serious solutions to the problems the NHS of today faces, let's face it they created so many of them and remain in blissful denial.