Many of you have contacted me recently regarding the BMA's 'No More Games' campaign and the six priorities they have set out for the new government.
I agree that the NHS is one of our most vital and valued public services. I also believe that addressing the very serious challenges facing our NHS should be a key priority for the new Government and throughout this Parliament. It is therefore important, as the BMA's campaign emphasises, that we have an open and honest debate on the future of the NHS.
I am concerned, however, that the current Government do not have the right approach to solve these challenges and that they have put the wrong values - privatisation and competition - at the heart of our NHS. This has hindered sensible collaboration and improvements in NHS services, seen millions spent on competition lawyers and reduced Ministerial accountability.
Indeed, waiting lists are now too long, people are finding it harder and harder to get a GP appointment, Government targets for cancer treatment and A&E waiting times are routinely being missed and social care services are being cut.
Many NHS Trusts are also now facing serious financial deficits - the key driver of which is the spiralling cost of private staffing agencies which hospitals had to turn to following the Government's short-sighted cuts to nurse training. The Government, however, have failed to address this immediate problem and have offered no clarity on how they will pay for their unfunded spending commitments for the end of this Parliament or to roll-out a 'seven day' NHS.
I agree with the BMA's campaign that it is important to have an open debate on healthcare and to strive for a consensus where possible. I also believe it is imperative, though, that MPs and the public continue to hold the Government to account for the decisions they make about our NHS.
Thank you once again for writing to me about the BMA document ‘Securing a Healthier Future for the NHS’ and the 6 priorities. There is no doubt that change is needed to protect the future of our NHS and I can assure you that we are committed to doing just that.
MP for Leeds Central