September 9, 2014

Bill Esterson



The breast care units at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals are due to close because the NHS cannot recruit a specialist radiologist.

The service is much admired by the patients who use it and the alternative will mean travelling to another hospital and potentially a longer wait. This is not good news for patients.

There is a national shortage of radiologists who specialise in breast cancer treatment and a shortage of radiologists generally, a big worry for the radiology departments at Southport and Ormskirk and for those hospitals overall.

We also face a national shortage of GPs and it takes six years to train a new GP, with a similar timescale for radiologists.

There are other shortages of specialists and there is a shortage of nurses.

At GP surgeries across my constituency, patients are finding it difficult to get an appointment when they want and a number of practices are relying on locums. The idea of having your own GP is no longer a reality in places like Hightown where SSP Healthcare runs the practice and I am hearing of difficulties at other SSP practices in Thornton, Freshfield and in Maghull.

Patients tell me that untrained practice staff are taking decisions that should be taken by doctors or by practice nurses.

Meanwhile in Melling the surgery is now open three days a week instead of the previous five and people have to go to Tower Hill for an appointment.

Waiting times at A&E have gone up and social services have been cut, with patients unable to go home from hospital due to a lack of staff to support them. More older people are ending up at A&E with complex long term medical conditions because community health and social services are just not available.

The Health and Social Care Act re-organised the NHS from the top-down despite no one voting for it. It was supposed to give doctors control over the services which are available. But the reality is that most doctors want to look after their patients, not run the NHS.

The people who have benefited are the shareholders and directors of private health companies which have been awarded the majority of contracts tendered by the NHS.

NHS departments are being closed and replaced with privately run ones. This means money is going to shareholders and directors instead of on patient care.

If Labour wins the election, we will scrap the Health and Social Care Act. That will be the first step in solving the growing problems in health and social care.

It is clear that there is a crisis in our NHS and that the new government will have to put a huge amount of effort into rescuing the health service from its current plight.

The health of the nation will depend on it and with the breast unit closure and problems at GP practices, we are seeing right here in Sefton Central just why health is such a crucial issue.