It is the second part of this Government strapline that causes me more than a little concern. “Protect the NHS”. To me, it is the one thing that successive Conservative Governments have failed to do. We only need to look back at those years of austerity to know just how much the NHS has been decimated.
My local hospital used to provide beds for over 600 patients and at extreme times could reach 650 and there were the staff to provide for the needs of those patients. But now it provides for fewer that 400 when pressed, but usually it is more likely to be about 360.
For many years under austerity the hospital’s budget was reduced by about 5% a year. And whilst those reductions were taking place the number of people for whom this would be their local hospital was on the increase.
It is an outstanding hospital and is proud of what it had managed to achieve in spite of the yearly reduction in funding and the consequent reductions in staff numbers as well.
It is a great credit to the NHS that it continues to provide healthcare for all our increasing communities but it is regrettable that successive Tory Governments have failed to provide the finances.
It is a matter of great regret that during the coalition years the Lib Dems were associated with these cuts, though they did their best to stand up to that Chancellor. Unfortunately, their objections were frequently overruled, and now we have to live with the consequences.
If the NHS is to be protected it needs the finances all the time not just when the pandemics come, and come again they will.
The health of the nation is a key Government responsibility. It is not something that can be bought on the cheap.
* Sandy Clare is a pseudonym of a Lib Dem member whose identity is known to the LDV team.