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Prevention is better than cure for our public services

In most walks of life it is the case that “prevention is better than cure” but not, it seems, in politics, writes Labour Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere.

Stopping something bad happening isn’t particularly newsworthy so rarely gets attention and therefore credit.

I was reflecting on this as we prepare our annual budget for Ipswich Borough Council.

One of our proudest achievements since taking control of the council is something that receives little comment: we have managed to protect the council services people in Ipswich have come to expect and deserve.

As you can imagine, in the face of huge Government cuts this has not been easy.

But because, on the surface, things have carried on as normal the huge amount of effort to make this happen often goes unnoticed.

It is only when something changes – for example when we keep free brown bin collections when all other councils in Suffolk are charging up to £50 – that people tend to notice.

The same is true in the NHS.

Before the Labour Government of 1997, the winter crisis in the NHS was a regular annual event.

Through massive investment and the hard work and dedication of staff, the winter crisis in our hospitals was eliminated.

Patients did not have to wait on trolleys in corridors, ambulances did not have to queue up at A&E to discharge their patients, all non-urgent operations were not cancelled.

But because the NHS just carried on as it should have done in winter, somehow this achievement was never quite recognised.

It’s only when we look at the current state the NHS has been brought to by Theresa May’s government that we realise how good things were before 2010.

The Government knew this year’s crisis was going to happen. They were told how much money they needed to spend to avoid a winter crisis and they only provided half of it.

After first trying to pretend nothing was wrong, Theresa May belatedly apologised.

But as my mum always told me when I was young: “saying sorry means you won’t do it again.”

Does anyone have any confidence that we won’t face an even bigger NHS crisis next winter under this Government?

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