I have read and heard so many reports of the crisis in our NHS and seen the footages of ambulances queuing outside A&E. Though I knew what to expect in my head, yet accompanying an older relative who had had a fall, to Gloucestershire Royal A&E on a Sunday evening was an experience that hit me with unexpected emotions.

I felt anger and sadness on behalf of the 103 patients waiting 5 hours and more; for accompanying relatives, some of them sitting on the floor for lack of seats. But as an ex-nurse, I wanted to reach for an apron to help the staff battling with such unrelenting pressures. I imagined how grinding and desperate the situation must have felt for them.

Long before the covid pandemic, this Tory government inflicted austerity cutbacks on our NHS, shutting down beds and failing to train enough doctors and nurses. We now have curtailed GP services and our night time ‘minor injury units’ all over the county, even at Cheltenham are closed. No wonder there is mayhem at Gloucestershire Royal A&E, like so many other major hospitals around the country.

We clapped for our NHS staff and other key workers for the sacrifices they made during the pandemic, but work conditions remain dire. Now a government, led by a billionaire, say staff must accept below inflation pay deals.

Nye Bevan said in 1948 ‘No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of a lack of means’. I would argue that in 2023 the government is failing to fund and provide that medical aid in a civilized and timely way. They should never again be trusted with our NHS.


Jo Smith (Mrs)