COLUMN: Cash-strapped NHS will find it tough during winter

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As the dark nights draw in, winter suddenly seems well on the way and with that the usual seasonal increases in coughs, colds and more serious illnesses.

The NHS is always under more stress in the winter, but this year I fear things will be even worse.

This is nothing to do with our hard-working doctors, nurses and hospital staff, but because the NHS, in my view, is already approaching crisis point.

Funding cuts, problems recruiting staff and an increasingly old and ill population are taking their toll.

But I feel this Government is simply sitting and watching this happen.

Data from August this year shows that both Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust failed to achieve the target whereby 85 per cent of patients 
urgently referred by their GP with suspected cancer start treatment within 62 days.

Just 81.3 per cent of patients were seen at Sherwood Forest Hospitals seen within 62 days, while the figure at Nottingham University Hospitals was only 78.7 per cent.

Both the emergency departments at King’s Mill Hospital and Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) also failed to meet the target of seeing 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

King’ Mill, which is one of the country’s top performers on this measure, narrowly missed the accident and emergency target, treating 94.6 per cent of patients within four hours.

But the QMC missed it by some way, treating just 85.5 per cent of patients within four hours.

Last week the BBC launched an NHS tracker which shows which NHS trusts are hitting targets inaccident and emergency waiting times, cancer treatment and planned operations such as hip replacements.

It makes worrying reading, with just one hospital trust meeting the targets all year round.

Continual under-investment in our NHS is having serious repercussions for people in this country.

It is an outrage when patients are having to wait longer than they should for treatment for potentially life-threatening conditions like cancer.

If our local hospitals are missing A&E targets in the summer, how are they going to cope with the influx of patients that will need emergency care during the colder winter months?

Labour is calling on the Tories to invest an extra £500m in the NHS this winter to avert the crisis.

We would fund this through higher corporation tax and getting the top five per cent of earners to pay more income tax.

I cannot reiterate how important it is that our hospitals are given the staff and resources they need.

In my opinion the Government is putting lives at risk and it needs to address this situation immediately.