But sorely understaffed.
A report out today by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, “Facing the Future Audit 2017”, has recommended drastic increases in staff to meet need. Up to 752 more paediatric consultants are required across the UK: 520-554 in England; 84-110 in Scotland; 84–91 in Wales; and 30-31 in Northern Ireland.
There are clearly not enough paediatric consultants and services are struggling to provide adequate cover. As it happens, my brother is a paediatric consultant in the U.S., and it is completely different there – plenty of doctors – but of course people have to pay far more.
I have valued the NHS in the 24 years I have lived in this country, and I don’t want to lose it. But it needs proper funding. It is why our 1p rise on Income Tax ring-fenced into a dedicated Health and Social Care fund makes sense. It would raise £6 billion a year. We all, collectively, need to pay more so that everyone is looked after properly, not just those who can afford it.
There is a reason the NHS was featured in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics – it is a much loved British institution that people value and cherish. We need to keep the NHS going and we need to fund it properly.
The report out today – providing paediatric services to oversee children’s medical care – is only part of the picture of the state of the NHS. I can also testify to the lack of midwives, having written two formal complaints as part of care I (did not) received in the birth of our first child. As it happens, I also received two letters of apology, but that did not mitigate the pain and distress suffered. My experience was back in 2000, and there is an even greater shortage of midwives today. Things are getting worse not better.
It’s worth reading the many recommendations of the Facing the Future Audit report, which include integrating paediatric primary, secondary and tertiary care; a call for there to be government-led cross-departmental child health strategies developed and implemented in the four nations; and for health services tailored to meet the needs of children and their families, including a dedicated lead for children at executive or board level in health organisations.
Let’s campaign for better health services for all. The statistics and reports show what is needed, we just need the political will in Parliament to effect change.
* Kirsten Johnson is an Oxfordshire County Councillor and Day Editor for Lib Dem Voice. She stood as the Parliamentary Candidate for Oxford East in the 2017 General Election.