In amongst all the headline news about the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition speaking to the CBI, French strikes, and possible postal strikes, the Conservative-supporting Telegraph has run an article which I think should be getting more attention than it currently is.
It reports that, since the Coalition scrapped NHS targets in July, the Government’s own figures show waiting lists in some parts of the National Health Service have already doubled.
Before July, the targets ensured that treatment for any illness should start within 18 weeks of a patient first visiting their GP. Such targets were in place to make certain that people with serious diseases such as Cancer were diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible.
These rapid rises in waiting times for patients for a range of basic initial testing – a rise of 86% between June and August – appear to show that the Tory pledge to abandon performance-managing hospitals against such targets may well be endangering lives.
I remember my dad waiting a few days to be tested for lung cancer. They were some of the most stressful days of my family’s life. I can’t imagine having that wait stretched out over weeks and months.
Early diagnosis didn’t save my Dad, but it does save thousands of people every year. The fact that this is being put at risk by the Government for ideological reasons is a true disgrace.
Waiting figures for August 2010 were already 63% higher than the same month in the previous year, and that trend is likely to continue.
It’s easy to forget that during the general election, Team Cameron attacked Labour suggestions that a Tory Government would axe the 18-week guarantee. Needless to say, the 18-week guarantee was scrapped within a couple of months.
Along with the scrapping of the 18-week guarantee, the Coalition also cancelled the GP target to see patients within 48 hours, and A&E departments to see patients in 4 hours.
One of the last hopes for patients is the fact that Labour included the targets for waiting times in the NHS Patients’ Charter. That means NHS trusts are likely to be facing legal challenges through the courts if they fail to treat patients in the given timescales.
In the mean time, of course, people will die.