Just over 200 Labour campaigners gathered in High Park today to protest against the "scandalous and dangerous" problems at Southport Hospital and the current crisis in the NHS.
The activists were addressed by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram, as well as Sefton MP and Shadow Minister for Small Business, Bill Esterston, and local Parliamentary Candidate, Liz Savage, before setting out to brave the rain to leaflet and canvass in Norwood and Kew wards and set up a street stall in the town centre.
The campaigners were told how eight years of underfunding under the Conservatives has resulted in the worst winter crisis on record with over 1 in 8 patients across NHS England having to wait in ambulances for treatment for over half an hour, 25,000 of them for over an hour; while average bed occupancy hit 93.9%, substantially above the recommended safe rate of 85%.
Labour's Southport Parliamentary Candidate, Liz Savage, also described the local situation:
"Just a fortnight ago we raised concerns about what was happening at Southport Hospital and its A&E and were falsely accused of "scaremongering" by the local Tory MP, who claimed all was well at the hospital."
"Since then we've discovered that it is very nearly 15% below the four-hour treatment target and one of its A&E consultants felt compelled along with 67 others from across NHS England to write to Theresa May warning of chronic underfunding, systematic failure and patients dying in corridors. "
"Only yesterday the local trust had to put out an urgent appeal for nurses over Twitter due to the pressure it was under. It's a scandalous and dangerous situation but Southport's MP and his party colleagues are dangerously complacent about it. We will not be. "
Other MP's from the region also turned out with Bootle's Peter Dowd, Walton's Dan Carden and Wirral West's Margaret Greenwood joining local campaigners and activists from across Merseyside and Lancashire.
The event was one of two in the North West organised as part of a nationwide "Action Day" highlighting the difficulties the NHS is facing. Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Action Saturday is an opportunity for our passionate network of activists and supporters to mobilise in defence of our NHS. This unprecedented winter crisis has united our Labour movement around the shared goal of fighting together to safeguard the future of our NHS .
“Under the Tories, our NHS has been left underfunded, understaffed and overstretched. Despite the heroic efforts of our NHS staff, thousands of vulnerable patients have been left languishing on trolleys, stuck in the backs of ambulances and unable to receive the social care packages they urgently need.
“Labour founded the NHS, our proudest achievement, and on the year of its 70th anniversary we will fight to save the NHS from Tory underfunding, cuts and privatisation.”