Inner South Health Champion Councillor Paul Truswell has condemned the impact of Government cuts on local people’s health in a scathing speech to the Full Council last Wednesday (10 January 2018).
Councillor Truswell, who represents the Middleton Park ward, highlighted three “shameful statistics” that he said demonstrated the effects of austerity policies in Leeds:
- Infant mortality is rising
- More people are taking their own lives
- Women’s life expectancy is falling
Councillor Truswell said:
“Last year the Red Cross described the situation in health and social care as a humanitarian crisis. Why? Because this Government’s underfunding and cuts are unprecedented.
“In his Autumn Budget the Chancellor allocated less than half of the £4 billion the NHS urgently needs. He did not allocate one extra penny piece to social care.
“Despite the national cuts of £4.6 billion to adult social care, Leeds can hold its head high: we’ve raised our net adult social care budget by £26.5 million.”
Councillor Truswell said a study in the British Medical Journal in November suggested that Government austerity policies have caused 45,000 extra deaths since 2010. That figure could grow to 120,000 by 2020. Many of those deaths were people reliant on social care. One of the co-authors, Prof Laurence King of Cambridge University, called it “economic murder.”
He later explained that could amount to over 1,500 extra deaths in Leeds, with many of those concentrated in hard-pressed communities like South Leeds.
In addition to NHS underfunding and massive cuts in Councils’ social care funding, the Government had also slashed Leeds City Council’s Public Health grant by £5 million.
Councillor Truswell said the “casualty list” of austerity in Leeds also included:
- more people waiting lengthening times in ambulances outside A&E
- longer waits in A&E itself, including on trolleys
- increasing waiting times for in-patient treatment
- the 62-day target for cancer treatment continually missed
- over-occupancy of hospital beds well above recommended level
“Theresa May claims the NHS has never been better prepared for winter,” said Councillor Truswell. “That so-called “preparation” entails cancelling routine operations in January.
“The Government promised 5,000 more GPs; last year the number fell by 1,100,” he said. “Nurse recruitment in Leeds is down by 40%.
“This underfunding of the NHS and cuts in social care can’t go on. Our health and social care system is at breaking point. It is held together solely by the dedication of its staff. We owe it to them and the people of Leeds to demand the Government tackles this crisis, or makes way for a Government that can.”