Commenting on the growing waiting times at Accident & Emergency Departments in hospitals across the region, Amy Barringer, UNISON North West’s Head of Health said:
“Health funding is not keeping up with the needs of the public. NHS staff work hard all year round to keep services going, but it is increasingly difficult for the service to respond to any spike in demand. Many staff are saying that this is the worst winter that they can remember.
“The Government is spending a falling proportion of our national income on the NHS and this is set to fall further. I don’t think this reflects the public’s priorities.
“Part of the increase in demand on the NHS is a consequence of cuts in local authority social care services. When the necessary support is not available in the community people are more likely to come to A&E or to remain an in-patient for longer.
“NHS workers have seen lower staffing levels and increased workloads in recent years. NHS staff effectively donate £1.5bn a year in unpaid overtime to help keep services going. They are working flat out and this can’t go on indefinitely.
“Morale has been damaged by the Government’s refusal to pay even the recommended 1% pay rise to staff. The dispute over pay and the winter crisis in A&E are both symptoms of the Government’s cuts to public spending and the unraveling of our social fabric.”