OPINION

We can’t go back to an underfunded NHS

At the time of writing, 60 health and social care workers around the country have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the weekend the Prime Minister expressed platitudes about his debt to the NHS at the same time that many frontline workers still aren’t being tested and don’t have protective equipment (PPE).

The questions that Green councillors raised on PPE and care homes two whole weeks ago have never been more relevant but there is now no question that government inaction, complacency and denial has enabled this pandemic to grow.

We are pressing for more resources locally and I welcome that testing will be expanded to include staff and residents at care homes.

But with concerning national news on deaths in care homes, we urgently need more information on the scale of the problem faced by those in care.

Every worker who needs protective equipment must have it. Our most vulnerable and older people must be shielded.

As failures become clear in the pandemic response, it’s also time to question fundamental elements of healthcare.

Repeated cuts to our NHS, and privatisation “through the back door”, have weakened services which is why Greens for the past decade have consistently opposed both.

Worse still, dedicated NHS staff have been let down by the government cuts agenda: study bursaries for new nurses scrapped, appeals for better pay rejected.

There are 43,000 unfilled nursing vacancies, combined with a huge drop in applications from the EU after Brexit.

We also need adult social care workers treated with respect, decent pay and well-funded local services.

Government cuts set a course for our health system that should have been avoided. Commissioners holding NHS purse strings are unelected yet given a vote on our local health decisions.

We need a stronger healthcare system with democratic, local, accountable decision-making power in order that we can act in the interests of communities now and in future.

Many are saying that things won’t be the same again. But maybe some things shouldn’t.

A striking slogan from the protests in Hong Kong reads: “We can’t return to normal because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the leader of the opposition Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. John Sanders Reply

    I’m afraid you are wrong.The NHS is not underfunded.It is just very badly managed.If it was a business there woulda be many sackings,redundancies,especially in the procurement dept.
    So called purchasing/procurement managers are pretty clueless.The majority having never worked for commercial organisations.Basically they are just order givers,They have a list of suppliers and just send them their purchasing requirements without checking if they could buy cheaper elsewhere.In some reported cases they are paying extortionate prices for basic items.It is well known in the industry.Secondly all the extremely highly paid managers.( doesn’t matter which tier) do not have a clue about what is going on ,below their grades.They just leave them all to do it.
    The same can be said about the In efficiencies of local government civil servants..
    The Tories must sort out both the NHS and local government.Get professionals in to manage correc5ly.

    • Gareth Reply

      The Tories have consistently underfunded the NHS and local government over the past ten or so years. The evidence is there for anyone to see. We spend a fraction of what other developed countries spend on healthcare.

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