Last week, we saw once again the damage that Tory cuts are doing to the NHS, with waiting times at their worst level for 10 years.
We warned months ago that the NHS was hugely stretched. Our members working in A&Es have spent much of the past four years living under the constant threat of services being cut, closed or reorganised.
Yet the prime minister had the audacity to deny that the NHS is in crisis. And to add insult to injury, the health service is a worrying omission this week from the Tory’s six election themes.
All this comes at a time that staff morale in the NHS is at an all-time low, and just a couple of weeks out from the next planned strike over pay in England.
The problem with waiting times goes much further than A&E. It highlights just how vital the integration of health and social care really is, and how dangerous the government’s ideological austerity drive has become.
The key issue is a lack of funding across health and social care.
Local authorities have been forced to reduce spending on home care by more than £3bn since 2010 as a result of government spending cuts.
These devastating cuts to local authority budgets are placing increased pressure on social care. The effect is a high turnover of staff, a lack of continuity of care and long-term, sustained pressure on the NHS.
In real terms we now spend less per head on health than many similar nations. On top of this, of course, are the government’s expensive and unnecessary reforms.
The time has come for the Tories to finally begin sorting out the underlying issues in the NHS, which include the major dispute over pay.
Their denial that the NHS is in crisis, and their failure to include the NHS in their six election themes, is not a promising start.