Daily Left News

The General Secretary of the RMT union offered a characteristically quick and on the nose response to a Conservative panellist on Politics Live this week. 

Conservative politician Geoffrey Cox brought up the fact that long-term sickness in the UK had soared in recent years, playing straight into the hands of union representative Mick Lynch to hit back at the party’s record on healthcare. 

Latest figures found that 2.8m people are economically inactive due to long-term sickness in the UK, which the Trades Union Congress has blamed on the government’s failure to invest in our NHS. 

The record high number of those on long-term sick leave comes as NHS waiting lists in England hit a record high at the end of last year. 

Speaking on the BBC show, Geoffrey Cox said: “In 2019 there were about 20,000 applications a month for health related benefits, for people off work with sickness. In 2023 there are now over 50,000 a month.”

To which Mick Lynch jibes back: “So, you’ve made everyone sicker.”

The other panellists can be seen smiling in reaction to his comment. Cox went on to argue it was a sign of the long-lasting effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, but another interpretation is that it’s a sign of the Tories’ abysmal failure to invest in the NHS.

Cancer waiting times in England were the worst on record in 2023, while analysis by the TUC found that long-term sickness was now the top reason for women being economically inactive, with the union body blaming “overstretched” public services and cuts to preventative heath services delaying access to treatment.

The union body called for the government to “stop punishing people who are too ill to work” and deal with the underlying causes.

Under David Cameron, real-terms spending on the NHS dropped from an average of 4% annually since it was established, to just a 0.1% increase in funding each year until 2015. Between 2009-10 and 2019-20, NHS spending had an average annual growth lower than any previous decade in its history. 

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

The post Mick Lynch destroys Tories record on healthcare in five words appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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