People on the waiting lists for health care are faced with the daily reports of who is ill with Covid, how many patients are in hospital with Covid and who is living with long Covid today in Bolton.

They silence themselves due to overwhelming public concern about this awful disease.

Many hospitals are unable to do planned surgery, including hospitals people in the borough need for their caret. Patients with cancer and with conditions that require radiology or specialist invasive scans may feel left in a queue behind Covid. Some patients will be in pain or on waiting lists for longer than anyone ever planned.

More patients waiting for hospital treatment will seek out check ups from their GPs and healthcare staff in the community. Wellbeing will be deteriorating weekly.

The waiting lists make us face the awful reality that for some patients the chance of cure may be lost. The 1980s and the 1990s saw rises in NHS waiting lists and there were patients waiting for heart and chest surgery who did not always survive the waiting lists. In those days I remember the old town Community Health Councils who really fought for patients in their local areas.

The relationships between GPs, community staff, medical and surgical consultants and all hospital staff is the bedrock of the NHS. So it is the workers and their leaders the government must focus on listening to and supporting - not be a government of systems and structure interests.

Where there’s burnout in the NHS today, let’s remember all the staff we know from the news reports who rarely took days off in the pandemic surges when the intensive care, the high dependency and the Covid wards were full.

These are deeply difficult times in the NHS. Where is the real action plan from the government? Where is the government support to the fantastic devolved NHS in Greater Manchester that has growing patient waiting lists by the day?

Cllr Sue Haworth

Shadow Cabinet Member for Health, Bolton MBC