Tory MPs were out in force this weekend to support Boris Johnson’s National Insurance rise and repeat the mantra that the NHS is safe with them while blaming all problems on Covid.
We know the NHS needs an annual increase of around 6% to keep it on track. The last Labour Government recognised this and invested to reduce waiting times.
The result was a vastly improved service with big reductions in the wait for things like hip and knee replacements but that funding plummeted when the Tories returned in 2010. Boris Johnson now says his NI increase will solve the latest difficulties although it sounds like he’s trying to spend it twice by saying it’s for both health and social care.
This PM regularly claims he’s recruiting 50,000 extra nurses but that figure includes 18,500 existing nurses he expects to leave but hopes to retain. Retention is important but hanging on to staff doesn’t mean you can call them new.
The independent Kings Fund says we’re short of 38,000 nurses, so his plan must involve leaving the NHS 6,500 nurses short. There’s also that claim about 40 new hospitals where they’ve been caught out describing a new wing as a hospital. That doesn’t improve credibility.
There’s no argument that the pandemic has placed enormous pressure on ITU beds but by the time of the 2019 election, the NHS had already lost 17,000 hospital beds. That wasn’t down to Covid but nine years of Tory underfunding.
Waiting lists are currently the highest since records began and could reach 13 million. By the time any new money comes on stream, thousands of essential operations will have been cancelled and many will have died while waiting for treatment.
The PM says he’ll improve the NHS and simultaneously fix social care but strangely there’s absolutely no mention of his plans in the Health and Social Care Bill, currently making its way through parliament.
I welcome any extra money although I’d prefer it was raised fairly. The figures, the exaggerations and the downright fibs inevitably make me question whether the NHS is safe in their hands.