ST PETER’S Hospital say the strain on their services is easing, although the hospital, like many across the country, last week implored potential patients to assess whether treatment was really needed, after their Accident & Emergency Department reached breaking point.
A statement at the time said: “We are under severe pressure – please don’t come to A&E unless you are a real emergency. Non-emergency patients are likely to have an extremely long wait and could be taking staff away from caring for patients who need emergency or lifesaving care.”
In some cases ambulances were having to wait twice as long for their patients to be seen. The statement added: “Please bear with us during this time of unprecedented demand and help us to prioritise our most urgent patients.”
But now staff would appear to have a handle on the situation, although they did confirm that additional staff had been drafted in over the weekend. A spokesman for the Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We continue to work closely with all our colleagues in north west Surrey on a phased recovery programme.”
And it was announced this week that the Liberal Democrat Party plan to increase NHS funding by £8 billion by 2020. The Lib Dems are the first party to present a plan to meet the financial needs of the NHS as set out by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, in his ‘Five Year Forward View’.
Chris Took, the Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Woking said: “As well as increasing NHS funding, the Liberal Democrats and I will also commission a non-partisan fundamental review of NHS and social care finances in 2015, before the next spending review, to assess the pressures on NHS budgets.
“We will focus extra funding on key priorities that will help reduce cost pressures in other areas to help the NHS funding remain sustainable.”
The party plan is to plough the £2 billion the Lib Dems secured in the Autumn Statement for 2015/16 into the NHS budget. In addition to this funding they aim to invest a further £1bn in 2016/17, as set out at the Lib Dem Autumn Conference in Glasgow.
They say this will be paid for by capping pensions tax relief for the richest pensioners (saving £500 million), aligning tax on dividends with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m), and scrapping the Conservative’s ‘shares for rights’ scheme (saving £100m).
The ‘shares for rights’ proposals, which were brought in as part of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, allow businesses to award shares worth between £2,000 and £50,000 to their staff. However, in return, workers sacrifice their rights to claim for unfair dismissal, redundancy, training and flexible working.
This scheme has been widely shunned, in particular by small to medium-sized businesses. A Liberal Democrat statement added: “Once the Lib Dems have finished the job of tackling the deficit in 2017/18, the party will increase health spending in line with growth in the economy.
“The Liberal Democrats are the only party to set out a credible road map for how we will safeguard the NHS over the next parliament. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have a credible response to the challenges that face the NHS.
“Labour have pledged £2.5bn only to be fully introduced by the third year of the next parliament and have not committed to any additional real-term increases beyond that. Meanwhile the Conservatives have made no specific real-term funding commitments.
“Only the Lib Dems are committed to increasing NHS funding by £8bn in real terms by the year 2020.”