Guest column: Government cuts left the NHS on the verge of collapse this winter

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

This week Labour has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to provide urgent funding to tackle the ongoing NHS crisis and avoid another repeat of this unprecedented winter crisis ever again.

Patients and staff are emerging from yet another appalling and entirely predictable winter.

Despite the heroic efforts of NHS staff, eight years of severe under-funding have left our National Health Service teetering on the brink of collapse, leaving thousands of patients languishing in the back of ambulances and being diverted from A&E departments nationwide.

This winter at my local trust, the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, average bed occupancy has been at a staggering 96 per cent whilst 651 patients have been stuck in the backs of ambulances for more than 30 minutes.

This is unacceptable and, in my view, a damning indictment of Theresa May’s failure to adequately prepare for the cold snap.

Labour has warned repeatedly that the NHS funding squeeze imposed by the Government is damaging standards of patient care.

It’s why we offered an extra £6 billion a year for the NHS in our manifesto and guaranteed the main four-hour A&E target would finally be met again consistently.

Back in September, we also called for an immediate £500 million winter fund to help ease upcoming additional pressures.

We are now calling on the Government to end this winter of misery, which I feel is increasingly stretching into an all-year-round crisis.

Ministers must finally give the NHS the support and resources it urgently needs to ensure patients and their families never suffer a winter crisis like the last one ever again.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter at @KevinBarronMP