Figures just released by the Department of Health in Parliamentary Written answers reveal that the Health care crisis is getting worse in South Staffordshire. "Two measures, hospital waiting times and doctor vacancies, spell a worrying trend", says Michael Fabricant.
On Hospital Waiting Times, 5.2% of patients in the South Staffordshire Health Authority area – which includes Lichfield and Burntwood – have to wait over 12 months for inpatient hospital treatment. This compares with just 0.2% (one-fifth of one percent) in March 1997 just before Labour came to power. An increase of 2,500%! Meanwhile only 2% of patients living in the Birmingham Health Authority area, which includes Sutton Coldfield, have to wait over 12 months. "This postcode discrimination is a terrible disgrace" says Michael Fabricant. "Time and time again constituents tell me they have to wait far longer to enter Good Hope and other hospitals than their friends in Sutton. South Staffordshire Health Authority now receives less per head of population than any other Health Authority in the West Midlands and this has to be wrong. This
discrepancy in funding can also be seen in the prescribing of drugs such as anti TNF drugs for the control of Rheumatoid Arthritis which the local health authority refuses to fund although they are available elsewhere".
Meanwhile, the number of GP vacancies has also risen. In 2000, South Staffordshire had 15 vacancies. This has now increased to 23.
"I do not blame the Health Authority", says Michael Fabricant. "I do blame the Government which abolished GP fundholding putting the Victoria and Hammerwich Hospitals under threat and which now underfunds the South Staffordshire Health Authority which is £6 million in debt and has to make savings of around £1 million a year to stay ‘in business’ All this is at the poor patient’s expense".