MP warns of threat to NHS as waiting lists soar
Waiting lists for hospital treatment in North Staffordshire rose sharply during the first year of the coalition government, prompting accusations by Newcastle’s Labour MP Paul Farrelly that “the NHS is at serious risk under the Tories.”
The number of local residents forced to wait for longer than 18 weeks for care at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire soared from 120 in June 2010 to 201 in June 2011- up by two thirds.
Mr Farrelly said the figures for the North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust – which includes Newcastle - underlined his fears that the “coalition government’s reckless reorganisation of the NHS” was now having a damaging impact on patient care.
“My real fear is that we may be going back to the bad old days of lengthening queues and more cancelled operations,“ Mr Farrelly warned.
“Trusts are having to make big savings and also do more with fewer resources. It is bound to start having a damaging effect on waiting times.”
The statistics, released last month by the Department of Health, show that across the country, the number of people who waited longer than the official 18-week target to receive care leapt by over 9,000 on the figure for May 2010 - when the coalition was formed.
Mr Farrelly said: “The NHS has made big improvements on waiting times in recent years and it would be a tragedy if this were sacrificed because of the financial pressures on the service.”
In North Staffordshire an underlying cause of the delay was the number of patients needing back surgery. The queue for treatment forced hospital officials to close their theatres to non-urgent spinal patients so the backlog could be tackled.
“I recognise the specific challenges facing the hospital and the PCTs locally and I will continue to monitor their performance. It’s vital that people continue to get the treatment they need in a timely manner and that the NHS locally is not jeopardised by damaging cuts by the coalition government,” added Mr Farrelly.