I joined the BBC Politics Live North East and Cumbria programme. During the show I talked about the growing backlog of NHS appointments and unmet patient demand for health services including cancer treatments, mental health services, dentistry, GP services and elective surgery. The Chief Executive of NHS England has said that elective activity is “at its worst” and fell to approximately 25% of the usual level. Despite the heroic effort of staff, due to more than a decade of austerity, bed cuts and understaffing, the NHS has only ‘coped’ with the pandemic on the back of cancelled operations, delayed scans and diagnostic tests.
In June last year, I co-sponsored Labour’s Opposition Day motion in the House of Commons calling on the Government to “recognise the impact that coronavirus will have upon the NHS to deliver routine care including mental health care”. The Labour Party continues to call on the government to bring forward a proper plan to deal with the backlog.