The Tories’ Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will axe health services and could push the NHS past breaking point.
England has been divided into 44 STP “footprints” and between them they must cut £22 billion by 2020. The details have been shrouded in secrecy, but will be fully revealed soon.
This is a dagger at the heart of the NHS, a service that is already reeling from cuts and selloffs.
In a sign of the deepening crisis in the NHS, children who need intensive care treatment had to be transported long distances for care last week.
Paediatric intensive therapy units (ITUs), dealing with infants and children’s health, were running at
85 percent capacity last Friday. This crisis spiralled as London and Leicester declared themselves at “full capacity”. And by Saturday night doctors reported that there were no available beds throughout England.
Tony O’Sullivan worked as a paediatrician in Lewisham, south east London He is the co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public.
“The risks multiply all the time with delay,” he told Socialist Worker. “They are putting children, the most vulnerable, at risk.
“Nothing shows more clearly what contempt the government has for the NHS.”
This latest scandal is the result of years of underfunding. As Tony said, “There is pressure at all levels of the service.”
Tony explained how this affected paediatric care.
“The NHS centralised intensive care beds in smaller centres, but there are not enough to cope,” he said.
As winter deepens, the NHS crisis will only intensify, warned Tony. “If the NHS is running on a knife edge, all you need are winter conditions to tip it over the edge,” he said.
The STPs will be finalised on 23 December and will only make this situation worse. Tony said, “By undermining district general hospitals the STPs will reduce access to prompt, safe hospital care.
“It will lead to later presentation of ill children, women in labour with complications and the elderly —and will endanger people in the 95 percent of cases where prompt local care is critical”.
He added, “The cover story for STPs—care closer to home in the community—will in reality be less safe care in both community and your local hospital.”
Only a revolt against the STPs and a fight for a massive injection of funds into public healthcare will stop children and other patients’ lives being put at risk.
Fighting racism and the assault on the NHS can unite millions against the Tories.