Letters: Jo Rust, February 27, 2015

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Rob Masters (Letters, February 17) asked exactly how much better was the NHS under Labour. Some people have a short memory.

In 1997, Labour inherited the NHS in crisis, with hundreds of thousands of patients, often in agony, waiting up to two years for treatment. Under Labour the NHS was transformed for the better. By 2009, Labour’s investment in the NHS saw waiting times at their lowest since records began. Waiting times for in-patient procedures were less than three weeks, and the total number of people waiting had more than halved.

What do we have after five years of David Cameron as Prime Minister?

The NHS is rapidly heading back to the ‘bad old days’, with nearly 3 million people waiting for surgery or other hospital procedures. Increasing numbers are having to wait over a year. Intolerably long waiting times to see a GP have become a national disgrace that could endanger people’s health, because increasingly unacceptable waits for an appointment risk illnesses not being spotted quickly enough and chances to prevent them being missed.

The share of total NHS spending going to GP surgeries has been cut by 25 per cent under this Government, despite GP surgeries treating about 40 million more patients a year than five years ago.

Latest figures show that in December, nearly 39,000 patients were forced to wait on trolleys for up to 12 hours after being admitted to hospital – three times as many as the previous year. The number of delayed transfers is up 20 per cent, and record numbers of older people are trapped in hospital because cuts to adult social care budgets in recent years mean the nursing home places aren’t there or care in the home is no longer available. The knock-on effect, of so-called bed blocking, means wards are staying full, A&E can’t admit to the ward, pressure is backing up through A&E and ambulances can’t hand over patients at A&E. The knock-on effect is that A&E performance now is the worst it has been for over a decade.

Labour inherited £347 billion of debts from John Major, without paying off the interest this would have doubled in 10 years. Cameron and Osborne have barely reduced the deficit by a third in five years, in spite of putting an extra five per cent on VAT, which shows how pathetic they are. Declining living standards mean that most working people are worse off than they were before 2010, while pensioners have received scant rewards for a lifetime of careful saving. This is why the Tories are resorting to fear tactics and dishonest scaremongering as they struggle to cling on to power, because standing on their record in government would be pure folly.

Jo Rust,

Prospective Labour Party candidate, North West Norfolk