Labor’s shadow health and social care secretary said the job would provide more staff, equipment and technology to the beleaguered NHS – but said how this would be funded remains to be determined.
Labor MP Wes Streeting traveled to Leicester this week to speak to staff and patients at Glenfield Hospital. He told LeicestershireLive he was impressed with their honesty about the challenges they faced including staff shortages, burnout and the backlog of patients awaiting treatment as the country emerges from the pandemic.
In Leicester hospitals alone, there are 111,008 patients awaiting treatment and an estimated shortage of 10,000 medical staff in the Midlands. As political finger-pointing becomes more common across parties, we asked what practical steps can be taken now to help people in our communities who are hurting because of this backlog.
READ MORE: Leicester life expectancy plummets – with men and women dying years younger than the national average
He said, “It has to start early, it has to start now. The first thing we need the government to do is produce an independent analysis of the staff we need in the NHS and then we need to go out and recruit those people.
“It will make a very big difference to staff retention in the NHS because one of the things staff tell me is that they are burnt out, they are burnt out, they are considering their future in the NHS but they are more likely to stay if they know cavalry is coming down the trail.
” We have [also] has a big problem at the moment where some staff who are willing to return to the NHS or work overtime are prevented from doing so due to the pension rule. This should be changed so that we can put more of the existing workforce to work.
He added that the increased use of technology for certain aspects of patient care is key to freeing up staff time and hospital beds and that it is important that research funding helps develop this. Glenfield Hospital has won awards for its use of technology to monitor patients at home for things like blood pressure and heart monitoring.
Increasing staff numbers and improving healthcare technology sounds great, but who is going to pay for it at a time when the cost of living is rising and taxes are already rising across the board? The answer: it is still too early to tell.
“We are looking at all the taxes and expenses we have and some of that will depend on the conditions in the economy at the time,” Mr Streeting said.
“It’s very frustrating when you’re in opposition and you’re two years away from an election because people naturally want to know what your policies are and how you pay for them. But all opposition parties only really release their detailed policies and spending plans just before an election, because it all depends on the health of the economy.
“What I can tell you is that Labor does not want to put more of a tax burden on low and middle income people and working families because we believe the government is currently pressing them until the pips squeak.
“His [also] it’s not just about raising money for public services, but also about how we spend the money we have more wisely. Look at the levels of waste in the NHS, £8.7billion wasted on unusable PPE, look at how much the government has lost in fraudulent loans to all sorts of fraudsters.
The director of public health revealed this week that life expectancy has fallen sharply in Leicester and women in the city are expected to live 7 years less in good health than the national average.
“There are huge health inequities in this city that need to be addressed and if we focus on promoting good positive health, preventing health problems, not only do people have a better quality of life, but we are saving the NHS a huge amount of money. as well,” Mr. Streeting said.
“People should not die earlier. In the context of the cost of living crisis and the horrific choices inflicted on families, things like turning off the heating, not having a balanced diet, all of these have a big impact on people’s chances and life expectancy. .
He added that should Labor come to power he is ‘absolutely determined’ to ensure councils, of which Leicester and Leicestershire are historically among the least funded in the country, are ‘adequately resourced’.
With household costs soaring, is now really the right time for Leicester City Council to add what critics call a ‘stealth tax on workers’ through its parking tax proposal on work place?
He said: “I’m sure the mayor will take a close look at what people have said and consider the broader economic context at this time for families and businesses. I don’t think it’s up to me to come to Leicester and start telling the mayor how to run his city. I think the most important voice in this regard is the voice of the people of Leicester who expressed their views during the consultation.