Socialist Worker

Cuts push NHS to crisis point

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2379

NHS workers at Whipps Cross hospital in London have been protesting against pay cuts

NHS workers at Whipps Cross hospital in London have been protesting against pay cuts (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Tories have cut £10 billion from the NHS in the last three years and plan to cut another £10 billion by 2015.

The equivalent of 3,859 full-time nurses, midwives and health visitors have been cut in England alone since the Tories got into office, new figures show.

They are determined to break up public health care and sell it off to health companies owned by private equity firms and hedge funds. 

In the process they are making health workers’ lives miserable and putting patients at risk.

Almost a quarter of walk-in centres have closed since 2010. Currently 20,000 nursing jobs are vacant—or as many as 34,000 including part-time workers.

This puts even more pressure on overstretched hospital A&Es.

Alex is a nurse at a central London teaching hospital. He told Socialist Worker, “We’re constantly short-staffed and got 150 more staff recently because the trust was criticised for it. 

“But now we’ve had a letter from the chief nurse saying we have to make additional savings or they will take them away again.”

Overworked

Most NHS staff are overworked and have seen their wages eaten away by a pay freeze and below-inflation rises under the Tories. 

Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt said last month that staff should not even get the promised measly
1 percent pay increase next April.

But there is money for some staff—NHS bosses. Figures show that 2,299 health bosses left jobs with pay offs of £100,000 or more since 2010. 

Many left their jobs after NHS reorganisations only to be rehired soon after. 

Nearly 300 executives at NHS England are on six-figure salaries and bosses’ pay rose twice as fast as nurses’ pay last year.

Among the staff that actually do the work it’s too much for many to cope with. 

Almost 25 percent of midwives are thinking of leaving because of unpaid overtime and feeling burnt out according to a survey by the Royal College of Midwives.

“Stress and sick levels are high,” said Alex. “But people are constantly harassed for being sick so they use their annual leave.

“There’s increased pressure on all parts of surgery but especially intensive care. 

“We feel like we’re working on a production line that’s constantly being speeded up and  there’s going to be a disaster at some point.”


Protest demands money back for NHS

Campaigners demonstrated in scrubs outside Emersons Green NHS treatment centre in Bristol last week. 

The centre is run by Care UK, which was paid £6 million by the NHS last year to provide routine services.  But the centre underspent by £2.7 million. 

The protesters held a big cheque they wanted Care UK to sign and return the money to the NHS.

 


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