The NHS faces an emergency. 5.7 million patients are on waiting lists in England alone - the highest ever on record. There are over 90,000 staff vacancies. And the pandemic is far from over; with thousands still being admitted to hospital and dying from coronavirus every month.
After months of laying the blame for this crisis at the feet of NHS staff, Sajiv Javid finally admitted that the government is not on track in their plan to recruit 6,000 new GPs - a promise Boris Johnson made repeatedly during his election campaign.
This makes Mr Javid the third Health Secretary in a row to make and break a promise on new GPs. In 2015, Jeremy Hunt pledged 5,000. In 2019, Matt Hancock pledged 6,000. In reality, there are 1,803 fewer GPs today than there were in 2015.
The NHS faces a “humanitarian crisis” - this was the view of Mike Adamson, the Chief Executive of the British Red Cross, commenting on the approaching winter crisis back in 2017. Fast forward four years, and the failure of successive governments to adequately fund or recruit more staff for our public health service, plus the additional pandemic pressures, means that this winter we face an emergency.
Over the last few months, Sajid Javid has blamed GPs for retiring. He’s threatened surgery staff with ‘hit squads’ and a new league table scheme linked to (pre-existing) pots of funding, and he even backed a Daily Mail smear campaign, which accused doctors of “hiding” from their patients.
The truth is, NHS staff have gone above and beyond over the last 18 months - especially GP and surgery staff. We outlined this last month in our online GP crisis briefing for MPs and the press, which you can rewatch on Youtube here. For example, patients’ satisfaction with the type of GP appointment they were offered was actually higher this summer (82%) than it was in August 2018 (74%). It’s time for Sajid Javid to stop gaslighting NHS staff and start taking responsibility. That’s why we’re demanding he share his plan immediately.
As he heads into his first winter in the job, we all deserve to know the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care’s plan for the NHS. Add your name here to #DemandJavidsPlan with us now.