I have been contacted by a number of constituents as part of a 38 Degrees campaign regarding the future of the NHS.
I very much share many people’s concerns about the current state of the NHS and the long waiting times experienced by people up and down the country, stemming from an ageing population and unprecedented demand for healthcare.
There is now a widespread recognition that the NHS and social care services are unsustainable with current funding. Every day we see new stories about hospitals struggling to cope, patients facing longer waits for treatment, a lack of support for people with mental illness, and elderly people not getting the social care they need.
That is why I have led a cross-party group of MPs calling on the Government to embrace a cross-party process and establish an NHS and Care Convention to engage with the public and with staff with a view to agreeing a new long-term settlement for both the NHS and the care system. We need to confront the inefficient use of resources and the need for more funds. It should not be beyond the wit of man or woman to achieve a modern efficient and effective health care system but this is a significant failure of public policy at present.
I have also proposed plans for a dedicated NHS and Care Tax, shown on your pay packet, with all the money raised being used to support our vital health and care services. We have to be honest about the scale of this crisis. If we conclude that we all need to pay a little extra tax, then we must be prepared to say it.
I believe that what the NHS and care for elderly and disabled people really needs is a secure, sustainable and protected funding stream. This is why my party has been calling for the introduction of a statutory independent budget monitoring agency for health and care, similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This would report on how much money the system needs to deliver safe and sustainable treatment and care.
I have written to Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to put forward the concerns raised with me by constituents and I will continue with my efforts in fighting for better services and in my call for a cross-party process to agree a new long-term settlement for both the NHS and the care system.