Shoppers share their worries for the NHS and sign petition

Campaigners in Burgess Hill on Saturday (January 21). Picture: Mid Sussex Labour Party
Campaigners in Burgess Hill on Saturday (January 21). Picture: Mid Sussex Labour Party

Hundreds of shoppers signed a petition last Saturday (January 21) calling on the government to spend more on the NHS as Sussex Labour Party members joined a national day of action and protests.

Campaigners headed to Hassocks, Burgess Hill, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Storrington.

Campaigners in Storrington High Street. Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

Campaigners in Storrington High Street. Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

Many of those supporting the action spoke of the effect of cuts on their own lives and their worries for the future of services.

Caroline Fife, from Arundel and South Downs Labour Party, led the protest in Storrington.

She said: “We had a huge level of support for our call for more funding for the NHS with people telling us how cutbacks nationally and locally were seriously affecting them.

“One lady in her eighties was left without support to bathe her husband who has a serious condition and a doctor told us how a Sussex care home was set to close with the loss of 70 much needed beds. The real cost of cutbacks on social care and mismanagement of the NHS impacts people and needs to be recognised and reversed.”

Campaigners in Hassocks. Picture: Campaigners in Burgess Hill on Saturday (January 21). Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

Campaigners in Hassocks. Picture: Campaigners in Burgess Hill on Saturday (January 21). Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

The support for more funding was equally positive in Hassocks.

Linda Taylor, from Arundel and South Downs Labour Party, said: “Shoppers were pleased to see people standing up for the NHS and wanted to send a message to the government to sort out the current funding crisis.”

Last week Labour revealed that the amount spend on adult social care last year (2015/16) was £167.3 million compared to £203.5 million in 2010/11 – with budget cuts in five out of six years amounting to £48.5 million.

At the same time the growth in the elderly population in West Sussex had pushed up costs of social care to new highs and this was putting increased pressure on the NHS, a spokesman from the Arundel and South Downs Labour Party said.

Simon Birnstingl in Storrington holding an NHS placard. Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

Simon Birnstingl in Storrington holding an NHS placard. Picture: Arundel and South Downs Labour Party

“West Sussex County Council’s draft budget for 2016/17 expresses serious concern about its inability to keep up with the rate of growth in the ageing population. It forecasts costs for elderly social care will rise by a further £21 million over the next four years contributing to the £124 million council funding gap,” the spokesman added.

Greg Mountain, a member of the Mid Sussex Labour Party, said the NHS is ‘in crisis’ yet the government ‘doesn’t have a plan to ensure hospitals up and down the country have the resources they need’.

He said: “Mid Sussex residents are increasingly finding it hard to get support from the council for relatives in need of social care.
“The message from Mid Sussex people was clear – the government and council must put more money into these services. We cannot leave people to look after aged relatives who suffer from conditions like dementia unassisted. Some people were close to tears as they explained how little help they get when seeking assistance.”

The party member highlighted hospital waiting times for treatments as a key issue and said the number of people on the waiting list is estimated to be around 3.9 million.

“Nationally more than one in ten patients in England waited more than four hours for a hospital bed after emergency admission. It is twice as bad in Mid Sussex. Nearly one in five patients are not treated within four hours,” he added.

Pam Haigh, Chair of the Mid Sussex Labour Party, said the health service was in ‘crisis’ following ‘cuts and persistent underfunding of the NHS by the Tories’.

She said: “Shamefully, the government failed to give the NHS and social care a single penny of extra investment in the autumn statement. The Tories are letting our NHS and patients down. Its time they invested properly in our NHS. That is why the Labour Party is calling on the government to take immediate action to protect our NHS.

“The people of Mid Sussex need and deserve a better NHS than we have now.”

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