Ashworth condemns Tory-made NHS crisis forcing patients to crowdfund to pay for operations

More patients are being forced to seek donations or take out loans to pay for operations due to the Conservative-made NHS crisis, according to the shadow health secretary.

Jon Ashworth warned voters not to believe the Covid-19 pandemic is the only reason for the pressure on the NHS as he criticised the record of the Tories in government since 2010.

He added a “two-tier health system, privatisation by the backdoor” has emerged as people “in pain and desperation” find ways to fund treatment, including £12,000 for a hip replacement or £9,000 for a knee operation.

Addressing the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Ashworth (pictured) told delegates: “An under-funded, under-staffed NHS has been pushed to the brink.

“No-one is pretending the NHS hasn’t been impacted by 18 months of Covid. But let’s not pretend that pre-Covid the NHS wasn’t impacted by 10 years of the Tories.

“We entered the pandemic with the longest financial squeeze in NHS history, 17,000 beds closed, hospitals crumbling, public health services cut, GP numbers down, services privatised, nurse training places cut, children’s mental health budgets raided, thousands waiting longer for cancer treatment, the 18-week target not met for five years, the A&E target not met for six years.

“So, the NHS is in crisis not simply because of Covid, the NHS is in crisis because of the Conservatives.

“It has the devastating consequence of forcing more and more people in pain and desperation to take out loans or crowdfund on the internet for donations to pay for an operation because the wait is too much to bear – £12,000 for a hip replacement, £9,000 for a knee replacement, £3,000 for a hernia.

“A two-tier health system, privatisation by the backdoor. That’s the Tory threat to our NHS. That’s what we’re fighting and that’s why we’ll rebuild our NHS in every community across the land.”

Mr Ashworth said a future Labour government would seek to bring down waiting times, improve cancer care and “ensure a doctor’s appointment when you need one”.

He reiterated a pledge, said now to be inspired by Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, to ensure the poorest young children receive fresh fruit, vegetables and vitamins in a bid to “attack child hunger”.

Mr Ashworth also pledged to “fix” the “broken” social care system, with personalised care to help people stay at home.

On dementia, the Labour MP said the party would double spending on dementia research to £160 million a year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to spend £1.6 billion on dementia research by the end of the decade but Labour analysis indicated that target was set to be missed.

Funding for dementia research decreased by £7.2 million from £82.9 million in 2018-19 to £75.7 million in 2019-20.

Under the current speed of investment, it would take nearly 20 years for this Government to meet the target, Labour said.

Mr Ashworth said Labour would spend £160 million a year, which would meet the £1.6 billion target in 2030.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Gareth Fuller / PA.