MP’s column - Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East

Michael Dugher MP
Michael Dugher MP

As a country we are justifiably proud of the NHS. Sometimes things go wrong but most of us have our own personal stories about the wonderful work performed daily by its caring and dedicated staff here in South Yorkshire. However, I’m really worried about its future

The NHS is vital to the health and well-being of our nation but no one seems to have told David Cameron and the Tories. He said he could be trusted with the NHS but all we got was broken promises.

They attacked the NHS with a reorganisation that no-one wanted or voted for. A reorganisation that has cost £18 million in Barnsley and £3bn nationwide, including at least £78 million on unnecessary administration and legal fees.

One of the symptoms of this pointless top down reorganisation is seen in the increase in GP appointment waiting times. I know that patients value being able to consult with and speak to their GP who is local, who knows them and their family and whom they trust.

When meeting my Barnsley constituents I often hear that they are on the phone first thing in the morning to their local GP surgery, and when they finally get through, it’s only to be told there are no appointments available for days.

The number of people waiting for a week or more to see or speak a GP or nurse at their practice reached 46.8m last year. The proportion of patients who manage to see a GP within 48 hours has dropped from 80 per cent under the last Labour government to just 40 per cent now.

When a patient can’t get to see their doctor, the next stop is often the overstretched A&E department of the local hospital. This is neither what patients want nor is it the best use of NHS resources.

Labour is determined to stand up for the NHS and that’s why I support Ed Miliband’s announcement of Labour’s GP Guarantee.

This will provide an appointment within 48 hours for all who want one and an appointment on the same day for all who need one. NHS patients will also be given the right to book an appointment more than 48 hours ahead with the GP of their choice

Labour will also save £100m from repealing David Cameron’s market framework for the NHS and cutting down on the bureaucracy associated with it.

Under this government the NHS has gone downhill. Labour will put the principles of cooperation and integration - not competition and privatisation - back at the heart of our National Health Service.

We are proud of our NHS. But we now need urgent action to save the NHS - before it’s too late.