I was asked to comment on the incredibly sad news that a man died in the back of an ambulance after waiting six hours to be admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. This is what I said in full.
“My thoughts go out to this gentleman’s loved ones. I also feel sorry for local NHS staff who I know just want to be able to do their jobs, giving the best care to patients.
The Economist magazine recently led with a story about Britain having become a country where none of our public services work anymore. It is actually scandalous that in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, our emergency services can often no longer reliably cope with emergencies.
The primary day-to-day reasons for the often near collapse of local ambulance and A&E services are well known. Ambulances queue for hours because A&E departments are already full to capacity. Elsewhere in the hospital, older people ready for discharge have nowhere safe to be discharged. But those are just the symptoms of a much more profound and systemic failure to keep us all well and stop people from getting ill in the first place.
As a nation, we spend far less per person on healthcare than almost all of our comparator countries. There’s an old saying that when you cut social care, the NHS bleeds, and billions of pounds have been slashed from social care budgets in the last decade. Local mental health services are in perpetual, never-fixed crisis, and thousands every week can’t get GP or dentist appointments.
All of this at the same time as successive Tory-led governments have siphoned well over a £100 billion of tax cuts into the bank accounts of their supporters amongst the already wealthy and the largest corporations and asset speculators.”