Children across Southwark were excited to see the snow last week, but whenever the weather turns cold, the NHS comes under additional strain, as people are more likely to slip and fall, and people with underlying health problems become sicker.
Winter pressures are normal, but this year, the NHS has been under unbearable strain for months, and across many services, doctors and health professionals are reporting that they are at breaking point and our NHS is in crisis.
Last week leaked records show that only one hospital in the whole of England met the national target to see at least 95% of patients arriving in Accident and Emergencies departments within 4 hours. That is the worst performance since records began.
In Parliament, I am working on an inquiry on social care. We have found that the cuts mean that a million people across the country who need care not receiving any care at all, and many more are not receiving enough care.
This scandal is contributing to the crisis in our NHS – when vulnerable people are not supported properly, they are more likely to end up in hospital, and after a stay in hospital it is more difficult to discharge them home.
Last week Lewisham Hospital became so full that it had run out of beds. A staff email described the situations as “critical” and “not safe”, and the hospital had nowhere to put the next patient brought in as an emergency by ambulance.
On New Year’s Eve the London Ambulance Service, already been rated as requiring improvement, had a serious IT failure, leaving the hard working dispatch staff to work off pen and paper on one of the busiest nights of the year. An investigation has now been launched and it is vital that action is taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
These are no longer isolated incidents – the Lib Dems and Tories ran down our NHS under the Coalition government and Theresa May’s Tory government is failing to provide the resources and support that our hard working doctors, nurses and NHS support staff need to care for people; or the social care that older, vulnerable residents need to keep them healthy and safe.
It’s time for action from the Prime Minister and this Tory government – not more empty promises.