We need accessible GP appointments. We need to reduce waiting times. We need to tackle the backlog in cancer care.
But under this Government things are getting worse, not better.
My column for the Chronicle last week:
I have been contacted recently by a number of constituents struggling to get an appointment with their GP.
Some have told me they tried calling their surgery over 100 times without being able to get through. Others have reported waiting over 6 months to gain a face-to-face appointment.
For those that work regular hours from 8am Monday to Friday, I have also been told that it is impossible to even call for an appointment in the first place, with lines closed for appointments by lunch time.
Last week, I wrote to the Health Secretary to express my concern about this. I have also raised the matter in Parliament.
As winter begins once again, it is clear that our NHS is under a huge amount of pressure.
Since the pandemic, the NHS has redirected resources away from its usual services in order to make staff and beds available for treating COVID-19 patients.
As a result, many have had to wait longer than usual to receive the care they need.
Barnsley CCG have said there is currently a huge gap between the unprecedented levels of demand for GP services and available capacity in GP practices both in Barnsley and nationally.
However, even before COVID-19, waiting times were increasing.
Without sufficient funding and staff, doctors and nurses in Barnsley were working hard to meet increasing demand but were not given the support they needed to meet it.
Now, a new report from the National Audit Office has warned that the number of people waiting for care could double by March 2025.
Whilst Labour have committed to properly staffing our health service to bring down waiting lists, the Government have failed to outline any plan for getting waiting lists down, increasing access to GP appointments, or speeding up treatments such as cancer care.
I understand the Omicron Variant will also be causing many of you concern.
Another wave of COVID-19 will only put further pressure on our NHS staff who are already going above and beyond to care for as many people as possible.
For now, our best protection against it is to come forward for our booster vaccinations as soon as we are eligible.
Barnsley has seen nearly 50,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and we must do our best to protect ourselves from any further tragic loss of life.
Last month, Barnsley was one of the first places in the country to a reveal a COVID-19 memorial.
I was proud to be at the unveiling to commemorate the near 1,000 lives lost to the pandemic in our town and pay tribute to the amazing key workers who kept our health system afloat during such a challenging time.
If you are experiencing any COVID related symptoms, no matter how mild, please do continue to get tested. Let’s keep ourselves and our loved ones as safe as possible over the festive period.
We owe it to the NHS doctors, nurses, and key workers in Barnsley who work extremely hard in difficult circumstances to look after us when we need it most.