April 30, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson



David Cameron promised us the NHS would be safe on his watch but instead his Government has haemorrhaged thousands of nurses and A&E units in Merseyside are struggling in a way not seen since the bad old days of the 1990s.

Almost 4,500 nursing jobs have been lost since David Cameron entered Downing Street in May 2010 and those losses are putting patients’ lives at risk. Recently released figures show that major A&E units across Merseyside are seriously struggling under the Tories and Lib Dems and have consistently missed their waiting times targets over the last six months.

Staffing shortages across the NHS have left A&E departments over-stretched and under severe pressure, with reports of ambulances queuing outside and patients left on trolleys for hours on end. Just last week there were reports of six ambulances queuing at A&E at Aintree Hospital while a man in Kirkby died after waiting over an hour for an ambulance.

The North West has lost 1,105 nurses since May 2010 and data published by the new NHS England body shows that the target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours has been missed by the A&E unit at Southport in 25 of the last 26 weeks, with a total of 2,976 people having had to wait more than four hours before being seen at that one hospital alone. Meanwhile at Aintree Hospital the figures are 14 of the last 26 weeks and 2,795 people waiting more than four hours.

Nurses are the backbone of our NHS but the Government has failed to grasp the seriousness of its cuts to nursing numbers and the impact they are having on A&E units like Southport and Aintree Hospitals. Unfortunately, the results are now becoming all too clear.

It is simply unacceptable that patients in need of emergency care should be paying the price for Tory and Lib Dem economic failure. David Cameron and his Government came into power promising to protect frontline NHS jobs but the evidence against that claim is stacking up, not just in Formby, Crosby, Maghull and Aintree, but across the country.

The Government must devise an urgent plan to bring all A&Es up to the required standard and ensure there are enough staff on the ground across the NHS to provide the safe care we need.

Labour is proud of its record in government. By the time we left office, patient satisfaction was at an all time high, waiting times were at a record low and we increased the number of nurses by over 80,000. Earlier in this Parliament, we called on the Tory-Lib Dem Government to abandon its expensive, top-down reorganisation of the NHS and instead use some of the money to save 6,000 nursing jobs.

We need to ensure that our NHS is protected and not destroyed by this Tory-Lib Dem Government, otherwise A&E waiting times will continue to rise and nursing numbers will continue to plummet. And people in Sefton Central will be the ones to suffer.