TWO years ago doctors, nurses, midwives and health workers from across the NHS were lining up in their thousands and pleading with David Cameron to call off a reorganisation of the NHS that he said would not happen before the last election.
Health professionals warned that it was a huge mistake to embark on a costly and unnecessary reorganisation in the midst of the biggest financial challenge the NHS has ever faced. But David Cameron did not listen. He arrogantly carried on regardless. Two years on, the damage it has done is becoming clear.
The last 12 months have been the worst year in at least a decade in A&E with almost a million people waiting more than four hours to be seen. A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system and it is telling us that this is a system in distress.
At the same time, services are being depleted. Cameron promised not to cut the NHS but instead thousands of nurses have been issued with P45s.
The reorganisation has also resulted in a postcode lottery for treatment. Last week a poll of GPs found that seven out of 10 believe the rationing of care has increased since the reorganisation and NICE has worryingly warned that patients are no longer receiving the drugs they are entitled to.
In 2014, the NHS is demoralised and is being kicked to the floor by the Tories and our local hospitals are suffering too. That is why Labour is this week forcing a debate in the House of Commons on the A&E crisis and the damage the Government’s reorganisation is doing.
We will be talking about the choice the country faces – a public integrated NHS under Labour or a depleted NHS that is being softened up for further privatisation under David Cameron.
And this is the ground Labour will fight the next election on, and for our NHS, it is crucial that we win.