Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya: ‘Why I’m Deeply concerned about Government’s NHS strategy’

Fiona Onasanya
Fiona Onasanya
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The NHS is our greatest national achievement. Founded after World War II in a time of deep financial troubles, it is a poignant reminder that even during times of ‘austerity’ – we can still provide for those most in need.

The NHS is our greatest national achievement. Founded after World War II in a time of deep financial troubles, it is a poignant reminder that even during times of ‘austerity’ – we can still provide for those most in need.

One of the biggest defenders of our National Health Service, activist Harry Leslie Smith, passed away last week. Even during old age, Harry was touring the world - giving interviews and talks on the importance of providing free healthcare at the point of use and reliving his own personal experiences and losses before the creation of the NHS.

I feel that it is imperative to continue his legacy and fight for this country’s pride and joy. This is why I am deeply concerned about the strategy the government is taking when it comes to the NHS.

Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine claimed that “relentless government cuts” could have been behind up to as many as 30,000 deaths in 2015. Meanwhile, hospitals up and down the country are unable to afford repairs or new equipment, yet are still facing more swingeing cuts over the coming years.

It is a consistent trend in all our public services: that those who protect us and keep us safe are increasingly struggling to do their jobs to the best of their ability due to the political choice of austerity.

As winter approaches, many hospitals are expected to be on black alert over winter. People are worried about patient safety, and for the safety of their family and friends. Instead of cutting the NHS to the bone, surely it’s time to give it the funding it deserves and needs to provide high-quality healthcare for us all?

Austerity to the NHS, and austerity on the whole, is a political choice not an economic necessity.

Anybody who tells you that this is about economics or ‘balancing the books’ always conveniently forgets that the UK spends much less of its national income on health compared to almost every other nation in the Western world.

Cuts to the NHS are a direct attack on the poorest in society – those who are already living precariously through zero-hours contracts and extortionate rents. But not only this, it’s an attack on us all, and an attack on the values of compassion and care that this country holds dear. The crises in mental health and adult social care are a national travesty, and they have been made worse by the last eight years of reckless austerity.

It’s time to halt privatisation and shift the focus back onto people and caregiving instead of profit and quick fixes. But most importantly, it’s time to resource this national treasure properly. A new vision for the NHS is needed. Eight years of under investment has severely impacted the service, so much-needed funding must be restored.