Over the last two years, I’ve worked as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to hold the government to account on how taxpayers’ money is spent across a range of areas, from schools to hospitals, and security to social care.
Recently, we looked into the spiralling costs of clinical negligence claims, and how this is affecting the ability of hospitals to deliver vital frontline services.
Over the last 10 years, the cost of clinical negligence in the NHS has quadrupled, from £0.4 billion in 2006-07 to £1.6 billion in 2016-17.
It is vital that those who have been affected by negligence receive the support they need when things go badly wrong. However, these growing costs come at a time when our health service is increasingly strapped for cash – further limiting the resources available for frontline care.
Our inquiry found that increasing financial stress on the NHS means waiting times are getting longer, and the quality of care is under pressure -; only making clinical negligence claims more likely, and costing even more in the long run.
What’s more, the government does not even seem interested in understanding why this problem is getting worse, and what can be done to address it. As the recent Budget showed, our NHS is not getting anywhere near the level of funding required to guarantee high-quality care, and avert another winter crisis.
Government ministers must get their act together to improve patient care and bring down the costs of clinical negligence.
This is my final column of the year, and what a year of change it’s been. It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner already.
Unfortunately, Christmas can be a challenging and lonely time for many, and I know that it’s getting increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet at this time of the year. That’s why it’s so important that we take the time over the festive period to think about those who are less fortunate than ourselves, both at home and abroad.
I support the important work being done by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which is highlighting what we can do to make people feel less lonely, especially at this time of year – you can find out how to help out in our community on the Commission’s website.
I never cease to be amazed by the selflessness of those in our community who dedicate their time to helping others during the festive season -; they truly understand the meaning of Christmas. I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish all Echo readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
To read this article in the Sunderland Echo, click here