NEWS COMMENT: NHS in winter crisis again? Blame the politicians

Busy hospital (generic)
Busy hospital (generic)
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It is both shocking and depressing that once again Queen Alexandra Hospital has been placed on black alert.

Those two words sound bad enough, but it is their definition which is most alarming.

For it means the hospital can no longer guarantee patient safety and provide a full range of services.

A hospital that cannot ensure its patients are safe: was that really what the creators of the National Health Service envisaged when it was established 70 years ago this month?

Of course, we have been here before in Portsmouth. So have large swathes of the country, with many other hospitals teetering on the verge of collapse by the numbers stricken by flu, bad weather and an influx of patients.

But it is called ‘winter’. It happens from December to February most years and these crises now appear to be as fixed as Christmas, new year and the first appearance of salt-spreading lorries.

Doubtless we shall be told later this year about new plans to beat the annual surge in demand at QA. Doubtless the system will border on collapse yet again in January 2019.

It is not the fault of the hospitals nor their over-worked staff. It is the fault of politicians.

What is happening at the moment in accident and emergency departments is symptomatic of pressures across the entire system. Short-term fixes, however well-meaning, will only get us so far.

Each winter the pressure on the NHS worsens and politicians are not taking the long-term view needed to ensure the NHS can keep up with rising demand.

Policy decisions that have left the NHS in this position have been made by successive governments and only a root and branch overhaul of the way it is funded will end these winters of discontent.