Life and death test to set tax spend

MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya
MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya

On January 17, there was a traffic accident on Park Road; a car collided with a pedestrian.

The victim suffered “life-changing” injuries and would likely have died if it wasn’t for the intervention of two good Samaritans who were on the scene.

They used their leather belts as tourniquets to prevent the individual from bleeding to death.

The East of England Ambulance service rushed to the accident; they dispatched a rapid response car, an ambulance officer, an ambulance crew and an air ambulance. They arrived only four minutes after the call was made. This is a great response time: the professionals in question are among the best in the world. It’s a pity that they have been so badly overstretched in recent months.

Thanks to a whistleblower, it has recently emerged that the East of England Ambulance Service was “critically overstretched” this past December 19. It apparently took 12 days to make a decision to move the service up to the highest state of emergency. Furthermore, it’s been stated that 20 people died because of these delays.

A summit has been held by NHS England and the Care Quality Commission to look into the matter; however, I am reminded of a truism from my days in the private sector, that meetings are often called as a substitute for meaningful activity. I don’t believe that any summit, no matter how well intentioned or run, can make up for a lack of resources. I’m not satisfied: we can and should expect the ambulance service to be able to respond consistently as they did to the incident on Park Road; it is literally a matter of life and death. Indeed, we need to shift our priorities and spend our precious tax money away from matters that fail the “life or death” test to those which pass.

Billions spent on new departments to facilitate post-Brexit trade deals do not meet the criteria; the needs of the NHS definitely do.

Education passes the test, because without a good start down the road to knowledge, one’s life is blighted. An aircraft carrier that doesn’t have a full complement of planes and won’t ever do so due to cost considerations does not.

Housing the homeless, particularly given the spells of bitter weather we have had this winter, passes the test. The continued tolerance of tax avoidance by some of the major tech firms does not.

I will be bringing up this issue in Parliament; I believe that we need more than PowerPoint presentations, platitudes, and promises to do better in the future.

We, meaning Parliament, need to be the “good Samaritans” that rush to the rescue of the NHS and stop it bleeding.

We should treat the NHS like the “life or death” service that it is.