Shropshire Star

Star comment: Tough decisions needed on funding public services

The continual erosion of public services is starting to bite.


We have not yet regained the ground lost during the pandemic, if anything, we have slipped further and further behind. The NHS is in a state of constant crisis, propped up by the goodwill and kind actions of those who work within it. Even their patience, however, is not unlimited. The prospect of industrial action is high, as the wages of those who put their bodies on the line during Covid contract.

It is not just our hospitals or our ambulance services that are tangibly falling behind. GP services are also in crisis.

Patients are not happy that they are unable to get appointments easily and feel services have deteriorated since Covid. There is, however, backing for the GPs themselves and also a willingness by most to engage in phone and video call consultations. The issue, as always, is investment. GP surgeries want to provide the services they need but they need investment to ensure they have the staff to help and also the infrastructure to ensure that they can provide effective care.

GP surgeries are now increasingly helping to take the load off of hospitals, with services like physiotherapy. But without the right facilities they will always struggle.

It is a question of priorities, not only for the GPs and the Government but also for society at large. It is evidentially clear that the nation cannot afford to fund public services to the standard required. And so the nation has to choose whether it wishes to pay more into the public purse, through taxation, or whether it is prepared to accept falling standards and failing services. There are trade-offs, the sort that politicians engage in every day, and a stark choice faces Great Britain.

In GP services, it is clear that if we get the environment right, provide adequate resources, create a modern infrastructure and ensure adequate staffing, the issues emerging will be resolved. There is a price to pay for that, of course, and it is one that most would be willing to pay.

Patients want to love the NHS and back their local GPs, but they also need to see that, post-Covid, they are able to access the services they need.

The NHS has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Waiting lists are too high, services are poor and too many people experience poor standards, inadequate treatment and face pain and shortened lives as a consequence.

Too many areas of public life are deteriorating, rather than standing still or improving. The nation must make tough decisions on funding public services if it is to stop the rot.