Millions of patients had their treatment put on hold whilst the NHS battled Covid-19 and waited with considerable anxiety not knowing when their turn would come. They deserve urgent care and if using beds and theatres in private hospitals is the way to guarantee it, then it should be done, but the unremitting desire of governments to outsource and the long record of failures rightly sets off alarms.
The deal should be a time-limited arrangement and certainly not a replacement for the core requirement for a credible new plan to lift NHS capacity. For a decade the government has ignored the evidence about the levels of resources and staffing needed to match the rising health needs of our community and have run-down key services like public health, hitting the poorest worst. No more. This new funded plan must start now and run in parallel with any deal done with the private sector.
Bed numbers had been cut steadily for over a decade and before Covid there was a staffing crisis with over 100,000 vacancies, including 40,000 nurses. For the first time on record, in late 2019, the NHS was missing all its targets, including A&E waiting times, cancer treatment and non-urgent surgery. The waiting list for non-urgent procedures was at 4.4 million, also at a record level.
Full story in The Lowdown, 23 June 2020