LETTER: None of us wants a return to the bad old days

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Lewes Green Party supports the actions of our junior doctors because it really treasures the NHS as a great British institution that commits to providing free medical care to all of us whenever we need it.

We have all read of the occasional case where the system has failed and something has gone horribly wrong, but many, many more of us have reason to be grateful for the service provided by all the professionals and support staff who work in our NHS.

Personally I have much to be thankful for as the excellent treatment I have received for my rheumatoid arthritis has enabled me to be an active Green Party councillor over the last nine years or so and I now look forward to the NHS helping to bring my first grandchild into the world.

I suspect that everyone reading this shares similar experiences and that none of us wants a return to the bad old days – still experienced in many countries, including the USA – when many just could not afford vital health care.

However, the actions of the present government seem hell-bent on persuading us that there is endless failure in the NHS and that we cannot afford to pay for it out of general taxation.

The junior doctors are the current scapegoats as Jeremy Hunt suggests that it is only their intransigence over weekend pay preventing us from having a fully functioning seven days a week service, even though many of them already work long weekend and overnight shifts.

The truth of the matter is rather that we are not getting enough trainee doctors into the system and that we have insufficient doctors to safely cover seven-day working.

To get more doctors we need to train more, to make sure that we don’t demoralise those we have and to ensure that they are not exhausted and stressed by unreasonable workloads.

Jeremy Hunt seems to believe that the opposite is the way to improve the NHS. No wonder some two thirds of people surveyed support our incredibly dedicated junior doctors and blame Jeremy Hunt for the strike.

We can also blame the Coalition parties for the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 which has greatly increased the pressure to privatise health care. And we can blame Labour for hugely expanding the Private Finance Initiative, making new hospitals cost far more than they should have done and saddling NHS Trusts with enormous debts.

To set our NHS on the road to recovery the Green Party supports the NHS Reinstatement Bill Caroline Lucas MP will be introducing in Parliament on on 11th March. Meanwhile we all need to do our damned best to make sure that the imposition of new contracts on junior doctors is a ‘Poll Tax’ for this government. Our beloved NHS is not safe in the hands of Jeremy Hunt and his Tory government.

Councillor Susan Murray, Green Party, Castle ward

Clare Road