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Theresa May has presided over a year of harm to our health service


Blog by Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON

Theresa May has now been the Prime Minister for a year. In that year she has contrived to lose her majority in Parliament, her political authority and her credibility as a leader. After being roundly rejected by the British people, Theresa May should have left Downing Street for good.

Yet it’s not only herself and her party she’s done damage to, she’s also presided over a year of harm to our health service. Statistics released today show the full impact of May’s tenure – and it makes grim reading for everyone who works in our NHS or relies on it.

Millions have been forced to wait more than four hours in A&E.

Too many people are stuck for too long in hospital when they should be discharged – including hundreds of thousands trapped in hospital because of diabolical cuts to social care provision.

Hundreds of thousands have been added to waiting lists. Tens of thousands have seen elective operations cancelled.

These are just some of the impacts of an underfunded NHS that UNISON members working in our health service know so well. Election after election, this Conservative government have promised to properly fund our health service, yet Theresa May has followed in the footsteps of her predecessor and done nothing about it.

Unless the government acts, the NHS faces a bleak situation. A recruitment and retention crisis is already unfolding as years of pay freezes and caps take their toll on a dedicated workforce. The abolition of the NHS bursary makes it harder to get new qualified staff into the NHS without burdening them with debt.

And one of the early knock-on effects of Brexit is that recruitment from the EU to the NHS has dried up whilst vital NHS staff from EU countries lack the certainty they need over right to remain. And all the while, that £350m for the NHS has yet to materialise.

A year ago, Theresa May promised she’d govern differently. Of course, the past 12  months have shown that her promises aren’t worth listening to. But it is not too late for the prime minister to take a different course, and invest in our nation’s health and in those who care for us.

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