Boris Johnson is turning our country into Backlog Britain.
People are having to wait excruciating lengths of time for everything from passports to court trials to GP appointments.
The incredible public services that once made our country a great place to live are no longer working as they should. And this Government has no plan to deal with it.
The NHS went into the pandemic with waiting lists at record levels. Now, 6.5 million people are waiting for planned treatment – the highest figure ever. In the meantime, people are waiting in pain and distress for treatment.
I also know that many people in our community are finding it increasingly difficult to get a GP appointment.
Despite pledging to increase GP numbers the Tories have spent the last decade cutting them and closing down surgeries.
And we are feeling the effects in our community. In 2016 we had 151 fully qualified GPs in Sunderland. That number has now fallen by eighteen percent to only 124 fully qualified GPs this year.
This isn’t a matter of slight inconvenience. Lives are saved by preventative care. Not being able to see your doctor quickly limits the potential to nip health problems in the bud.
Our GPs are working above and beyond to help patients catch up on treatment. But the Government’s complacency is letting everyone down and putting lives on the line.
I campaigned hard for a Medical School here in Sunderland and I was delighted to visit recently and meet with the next generation of doctors. I felt strongly that if we had somewhere to train our own GPs, more would have links with the immediate area and be more likely to stay, once qualified and practice locally. But of course it takes many years to train a GP. While we wait, I worry that the situation is going to get worse and worse.
Labour wants people to feel secure about their health. And to do that we have a plan to fix the backlog in our NHS.
We will boost GP numbers by scrapping the financial penalty doctors have to pay if they work beyond their retirement age, and we’d get medicine graduates to work immediately. We will fix the mental health crisis by recruiting 8,500 new mental health professionals, including specialist support in every school and mental health hubs in every community.
And we’d pay for that by closing the tax loopholes enjoyed by private equity fund managers and ending the charitable status of private schools.
We have ambition for our country. But the Tories are mired in scandal, failing our country, and simply not lifting a finger to address the serious crisis we are facing in our NHS today.