The Labour Party took government in 1997 with the promise of “saving the NHS”.
During the Major years he had struggled to reverse much of the damage done by Thatcher, and although he was a constant and passionate exponent if the NHS, was largely unsuccessful in reversing much of the funding cuts inflicted on the NHS by Thatcher.
The NHS was perceived to be in crises by the time the Labour government took control in 1997.
The Kings Fund produced a progress report from 1997 to 2010 measuring progress against a number of criteria.
* Between 1997 and 2010 funding for the NHS doubled.
*progress during those 13 years had been considerable
*the NHS was high performing in a number of areas
* more people were being seen, more quickly.
A number of important achievements are highlighted, including major reductions in waiting times and rates of health care associated infections and progress in reducing smoking rates. There has been a concerted effort to implement national standards of care for major diseases across the NHS which has contributed to the continued falls in deaths from cancer and cardiovascular disease.
There are less obvious changes too, including improvements in data collection and reporting, at a national and local level. There is now far more information about performance in the public domain, accessible to patients, carers and members of the public, than ever before.
The report concluded
Despite the challenges the future holds, the next government must build on the progress made and aspire to create an NHS that can deliver quality to all patients, in all areas, all of the time.
So now let’s turn to what has happened to this progress since 1997 and whether it has been maintained over the past 10 years.
Cancer waiting times.
The Labour government had reduced the waiting time, with 85% of patients waiting no more than 62 days to first definitive treatment.
Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to have suffered from cancer like me will know how terrifying the wait is.
Between 2009 and 2014 the target of 85% was consistently reached and in most cases exceeded. So less than a total of 15% of people with suspected cancer were having to face that awful wait.
From 2014 the target was failed and has not once returned to the 85% since then. In fact it is climbing and by 2017 was consistently about 20% of people having to wait and is still climbing.
We all know that cancer success rates are related to early intervention.
I expect the NHS cancer mortality rates will almost certainly deteriorate.
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