NHS 70: Future under threat by £580m gap in east London, Tower Hamlets Council warns
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The government has come under fire by Tower Hamlets Council for “threatening the future of the NHS” on its 70th anniversary by failing to give enough cash to meet its needs.
A debate on the future of the health service is set to dominate the council’s next full meeting on July 18 to highlight “the serious threat” the health service faces.
“Our NHS is being failed by the government,” Mayor John Biggs warns. “We’ve witnessed the extreme strain the NHS is under, with the government’s financial squeeze and cuts to social care budgets.
“In the East End alone, we’re looking at a budget shortfall of £580m.”
The motion for debate which the mayor is tabling, backed by the council’s new ‘champion of the elderly’ Cllr Denise Jones, says the 70th anniversary is a moment to “stand up and make sure” it is being looked after.
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“The NHS has made a huge difference to public health,” the mayor points out. “It has made incredible developments in medical science, all but eradicating debilitating diseases like polio and diphtheria and continuing to develop ground-breaking treatments.”
The 70th anniversary was a time to look at its future “which is seriously threatened”.
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The council motion accuses the government of having “pushed to the brink” with the biggest financial squeeze in NHS history, as well as cuts to public health and social care.
The £580m funding gap in east London has been predicted for the next four years by the East London Health and Care Partnership, which has led to the council warning that services and facilities could close by 2021 and “standards of care will suffer if not addressed urgently”.
A&E departments are overstretched and overcrowded, waiting lists for operations are “far too long” and targets are routinely missed, it points out.
The government’s announcement of an annual 3.4 per cent funding increase is said to “fall short of what is needed” because it requires 3.3pc just to maintain current levels without taking into account growing population needs.
NHS staff also feel threatened by Brexit, having a severe impact on the ability to recruit abroad.
An ongoing campaign to save the NHS has been running for the past decade, backed by GPs, hospital doctors, nurses, councillors, trade unions and MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali.
The NHS was founded by prime minister Clement Atlee, the Limehouse MP and Labour party leader who won a landslide general election victory in 1945 with a manifesto setting up a universal health service. Its core principles were to meet the needs of everyone, free at the point of treatment and based on clinical need, not ability to pay.