Data recently released by the NHS has revealed that 6 million people are current on a waiting list. This represents a shocking one in nine of the population.

Despite these awful figures, the Government has shown no signs of getting to grip with the scale of the problem.

Last week, the Health Secretary stood up in Parliament and declared that waiting lists will continue to rise for the next two years. He claimed that the Government had a plan to deal with the crisis but offered zero solutions on how to address the staffing shortage in the NHS – which experts recognise as one of the primary causes of the health backlog.

The Government has been keen to blame COVID as the source of the NHS’s woes. However, the fact is waiting times were already soaring prior to the start of the pandemic. Under the Tories, waiting times have climbed to record highs, and systematic neglect and underfunding has left the NHS stretched like never before.

In Tameside, there are over 18,000 people on waiting lists, and over 35% of those are currently waiting more than 18 weeks to be seen. That is totally unacceptable, and will no doubt be cause for great concern for many individuals and families across the Borough. How on earth can the Government claim to be ‘levelling-up’ when people in Tameside aren’t getting the care they need?

A Labour Government founded the NHS, and only a Labour Government can rescue it after years of Government mismanagement. We need a proper plan to tackle the workforce crisis, and must prioritise recruiting, training, and retraining the staff we need. NHS staff are heroes, and work wonders, but cannot be expected to keep the health service afloat without the requisite support.

The pandemic has shown that if we do not prioritise and protect our NHS, we leave ourselves really vulnerable. The NHS was almost totally overwhelmed by COVID-19, and only managed to get through the worst days of the pandemic because of the dedication and sacrifice of NHS staff.

We must never put NHS staff in that position again.

When Labour left power in 2010, NHS waiting times had dropped, public satisfaction was increasing, and hospitals were staffed at record numbers. It is so frustrating to see all that great work undone in such a short space of time.

Things need to change. The truth is, the longer we give the Tories, the longer we will wait.

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