Following the very alarming revelations made in 2022 (and not covered by the corporate news outlets) that there was a concerted effort to undermine the NHS in the public’s eyes so that it can be sold off

This latest revelation from the NHS, revealing a nearly 25% increase in the number of individuals waiting over 12 hours in A&E departments in England in January compared to the previous month, should not come as a surprise.

During January, 54,308 people experienced wait times exceeding 12 hours from the decision to admit until actual admission. This represents the second-highest recorded figure. Furthermore, it signifies a rise of just over 23% compared to December 2023, where 44,045 people endured similar extended wait times.

NHS England attributes these figures to the heightened demand experienced by A&E and ambulance services, marking their busiest January ever. The month saw 2.23 million A&E attendances, accompanied by over a 10% surge in emergency admissions from A&E compared to the same period the previous year.

The number of individuals waiting at least four hours in A&E, from the decision to admit to admission, increased by 7%, reaching 158,721 last month. This again stands as the second-highest figure on record, up from 148,282 in December 2023.

In terms of timely care, 70.3% of patients in England were seen within four hours in A&E last month, showing an improvement from 69.4% in December. Notably, this comes after a record low of 65.2% in December 2022. The NHS recovery plan aims for 76% of A&E patients to be admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours by March 2024.

Ambulance-related delays also raise concerns, with nearly one in three patients arriving by ambulance in England last week waiting over 30 minutes for handover to A&E teams. In the week to February 4, 27,905 delays of half an hour or longer were recorded across all hospital trusts, constituting 31% of the 90,861 arrivals by ambulance with known handover times.

The NHS England figures further indicate challenges in cancer care, with 65.9% of patients waiting longer than 62 days in December for their first definitive cancer treatment, up from 65.2% in November. The target for this metric is 85%.

Additionally, the wait time for routine hospital treatment over 18 months doubled from 7,079 in July 2023 to 13,164 in December. The government and NHS England, aiming to eliminate waits of more than 18 months by April 2023, acknowledge the need for exceptions in complex cases or patients choosing to wait longer.

As of December’s end, approximately 7.60 million treatments were pending in England, affecting 6.37 million patients. This is a slight reduction from the end of November, when 7.61 million treatments and 6.39 million patients were waiting.

Addressing concerns, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak admitted the government’s insufficient progress in reducing the overall NHS waiting list. He distracted the public by commenting on the recent industrial action by health service staff, particularly senior and junior doctors, engaging in walkouts over pay disputes.

Despite these challenges, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, highlighted the hard work and dedication of NHS staff.

The Impact of Underfunding

The underfunding of the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has been a persistent and complex issue, affecting various aspects of healthcare delivery. Here are some key details outlining the challenges associated with underfunding in the NHS:

  1. Budgetary Pressures:
    • The NHS has faced sustained financial pressure over the years due to increasing demands on its services, an aging population, and the rising cost of healthcare technologies and treatments.
    • Budgets have often failed to keep pace with the growing healthcare needs of the population, leading to a strain on resources.
  2. Budget Shortfalls:
    • There have been instances of budget shortfalls where the allocated funds are insufficient to cover the actual costs of providing healthcare services. This can result in deficits for individual NHS trusts and regions.
  3. Staffing Challenges:
    • Insufficient funding has implications for workforce planning and retention. Staff shortages in key healthcare professions, such as nursing and general practice, can compromise patient care and increase workload pressures on existing staff.
  4. Infrastructure and Equipment:
    • Underfunding has impacted the maintenance and development of healthcare infrastructure. Aging facilities and a lack of investment in new equipment can hinder the delivery of modern, efficient healthcare services.
  5. Delayed Access to Services:
    • Limited resources and funding constraints contribute to waiting times for various medical services, including elective surgeries and diagnostic procedures. Longer waiting times can negatively impact patient outcomes and satisfaction.
  6. Innovation and Technology:
    • Adequate funding is crucial for the NHS to adopt and integrate new technologies and innovations into healthcare delivery. Underfunding can hinder the implementation of advancements that could improve patient care and efficiency.
  7. Mental Health Services:
    • Mental health services have historically been underfunded compared to physical health services. The demand for mental health support has increased, and the lack of resources can result in inadequate access to timely and comprehensive mental health care.
  8. Public Health Initiatives:
    • Prevention and public health initiatives, vital for reducing the burden on the NHS, often suffer from underfunding. Programs addressing lifestyle-related health issues, such as smoking cessation and obesity, may not receive sufficient financial support.
  9. Social Care Integration:
    • The integration of health and social care services is crucial for holistic patient care, particularly for the elderly and those with complex needs. However, underfunding challenges have impeded progress in achieving seamless collaboration between health and social care providers.
  10. Political and Policy Impact:
    • Shifting political priorities and changes in government policies can influence NHS funding. Long-term planning and sustained financial commitment are essential to addressing the inherent challenges associated with the underfunding of the NHS.

Efforts to address underfunding in the NHS often involve calls for increased government investment, long-term funding commitments, and strategic planning to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the healthcare system.

How does privatisation by stealth work?

1: Choose a public asset

2: Starve it of funds

3: Break it into ‘parcels’

4: Claim it’s not viable

5: Sell ‘parcels’ off to private company

6: Company makes lots of ££ and pays massive bonuses

7: Thanks Tory party by making big donation

8: We lose asset and suffer

9: Go to 1

It just takes a little bit of attention and then a lot of action to stop it. Sadly, for many, both appear to be very challenging.

Find out how your MP voted or what they have said in Parliament

Douglas James

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