“THE NHS is actually collapsing. Patients are coming into danger. Doctors are unable to deliver safe care in many instances. A&Es are completely overwhelmed and patients are being treated in unsafe surroundings, in cupboards, in car parks.”

The picture of the state NHS drawn by Dr Julia Patterson – the chief executive of campaign group EveryDoctor – is not a comforting one. And what’s worse: “It’s been obvious this was going to happen, and [politicians] have somehow managed to ignore it.”

Patterson said that the “incredible pressures” on the health service have been there for a long time, adding: “All the way through the 2010s this government has underfunded the NHS.”

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She said that NHS staff have faced pay freezes and real-terms pay cuts leaving them “overworked, understaffed, and underpaid”. The worse the conditions become the more staff leave – which only compounds the pressure on those that remain.

“We are now missing almost 10% of the entire NHS workforce in England,” Patterson said.

But amid a frustrating lack of action from MPs at Westminster despite medics warning of mounting issues “every single month”, EveryDoctor has turned instead to the public.

Patterson’s campaign group has asked people to send a letter to their MPs outlining five steps which – while “not solutions that are going to fix all of the problems in the NHS in the long term” – could immediately improve services and working conditions.

So far almost 10,000 people have responded and lobbied their MPs about the five actions to help the NHS.

These are:

1: Absorb any additional energy costs for NHS workplaces.

The whole of the UK is facing an energy cost crisis and, Patterson says, the NHS is no different. Key funding which could be allocated to the health services’ priorities are instead having to cover skyrocketing energy bills.

Patterson says the government “should be making a long term plan to absorb those costs so that NHS trusts could, for example, afford to employ more staff, because it essentially all comes out of the same pot”.

2: Enhanced mental health support for NHS staff.

EveryDoctor is calling for better mental health support for NHS workers who have had to “endure so much” since the Covid pandemic in particular.

3: Remove locum caps and ringfence a new budget for NHS locum staff.

Patterson says that staffing issues, which date back years, have meant the NHS has “become increasingly reliant on a temporary staff workforce”. The government has tried to cap the amount spent on such temporary staff, but EveryDoctor is calling for the lifting of these limits, if not on a permanent basis.

“The situation at the moment is a crisis, an emergency,” Patterson says. “The NHS trusts need to get as many staff in as they can and these locum caps [are] preventing them from hiring staff.”

4: Address administrative problems in the Home Office for healthcare workers on visas.

Staff hired into the NHS from overseas are being forced to wait as long as six months for paperwork which will allow them to actually start their job, Patterson says.

“The Home Office is administratively just in a total chaotic state,” she says. “It just makes no sense. It’s simply an admin backlog and they need to tackle it urgently.”

5: Reform NHS pension tax regulations which are pushing doctors out of the workforce.

A quirk in the UK pension and tax system means that medics may end up actually having to pay in order to work, Patterson explains. She warns that doctors who may have been doing 50 hours a week are now doing 20 or 30.

“What we hear a lot from doctors is ‘I will do a lot for the NHS but I am not going to pay to go to work’,” Patterson says. “This is something that [Chancellor] Jeremy Hunt knows about, and he’s been asked by many healthcare leaders to tackle the situation and he still hasn’t done it.”

EveryDoctor said they will be running an emergency meeting on the NHS for Westminster politicians shortly, and further urged people to contact their MP about this issue.

You can join the EveryDoctor campaign and urge your MP to take action over the NHS here.