Protesting doctor claims it was easier to get treatment for patients in Afghanistan
Simon Taylor, who also served as an Army doctor for 19 years, said patients can no longer rely on the NHS for swift emergency care and it was easier to get treatment in warzones in Afghanistan and Bosnia.
The GP from Worksop began protesting outside the office of Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith earlier this week and said he will continue until the Government responds to the current crisis.
It comes as the NHS is in the midst of its worst winter on record for A&E waiting times and ambulance handover delays, as stretched hospitals across the country are struggling to find beds for new admissions, and senior doctors have warned that 500 people are dying each week because of delays in emergency care.
“The NHS is collapsing,” said Dr Taylor. “We can't talk about reform until we've dealt with this incident.
“It's like talking about rehabilitating a patient who has just been in a major car accident while you're still trying to get their airway open and stop the bleeding.
“We are in the middle of a major national critical incident. If we were losing the same number of personnel abroad, around 500 people a week, there would be uproar.
“But because a lot of these people are poorer or older citizens, it does not get as much attention.”
He added: “There needs to be a coordinated response and there needs to be a mobilisation of national assets.”
Dr Taylor, who works at a practice in Gainsborough, believes the current crisis is the result of more than a decade of underinvestment in the NHS.
“It's not just happened overnight and it's not just because of Covid or the flu,” he added. “The NHS was on its knees for years and now we’re face down in the mud and choking.”
The GP said he is also concerned about the mental health of NHS staff, who are struggling to deal with soaring demand and unable to provide many patients with the treatment they need, and he believes more of them will quit in the coming months.
It comes after official figures revealed the NHS had 133,446 vacancies in September 2022, including 47,496 vacant nursing roles.
Mr Clarke-Smith has been approached for a comment.
When asked about Dr Taylor's protest earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told ITV News: "I absolutely understand the pressure the NHS is under and that's why I spent all of Saturday talking to NHS leaders about the things we can do to make a difference."
The Department of Health said it has pledged £14.1bn of additional funding for health and social care over the next two years.
A spokesman added: “This includes investing an additional £500 million to speed up the safe discharge of patients from hospital, creating the equivalent of 7,000 more beds nationally and establishing 24/7 data driven system control centres in every local area to manage demand and capacity.
“There are record numbers of nurses and doctors working in the NHS – with almost 4,700 more doctors and over 10,500 more nurses compared to October 2021.”
NHS staff struggling with mental health issues can contact NHS Practitioner Health for free and confidential support.