In recent weeks NHS England and NHS Improvement (the body overseeing NHS Trusts) have joined calls for extra NHS funding.
The claim of the Brexit Leave campaigners to provide £350 million a week on leaving the European Union have been exposed as nonsense. Yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has been left in an impossible situation.
Constrained by neoliberal Conservative politics, he is unwilling to put forward a budget that will enforce the necessary taxes on the rich and find sufficient funds to support our National Health Service.
Yet as long as funding is lacking, recruitment and retention of staff continues to be in crisis. Despite Jeremy Hunt’s consistent promise of 5,000 extra GPs by 2020, the latest figures show that the number of full time equivalent GPs is falling.
GPs have been driven to leave General Practice or reduce their hours in the face of an unrelenting workload and inevitable burnout. To meet their GP pledge the government now needs to employ an extra 6,200 GPs.
The TUC and affiliated public sector unions wrote to the Chancellor in the run up to the budget, calling once again for the lifting of the public sector pay cap and the end to the pay freeze. Yet the letter does not make the necessary promise of serious and sustained industrial action if a real terms pay increase is not given to public sector workers.
Nothing short of a complete reversal of policy will be enough to stop the persistent haemorrhaging of staff out of the NHS.
The blame game amongst politicians and senior NHS leaders has started early this winter, with Theresa May appearing to take the Secretary of State for Health out of the firing line by suggesting all blame for another bad winter should be put on Simon Stevens, the Head of NHS England.
Meanwhile there have been no serious attempts to try to get to grips with the necessary planning or funding required for dealing with a winter that is set to be worse than last. Certainly if the flu burden is as bad as predicted.
Only a radical Labour government willing to nationalise the banks and tax the rich will be able to stave off further decline in standards within our NHS.