Socialist Worker

The NHS is on life support with a severe case of Tory cuts

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2536

Worcestershire Royal Hospital, where the humanitarian crisis claimed three lives

Worcestershire Royal Hospital, where the humanitarian crisis claimed three lives (Pic: Geograph/Chris Allen)


The British Red Cross declared a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS after it was drafted in to stop the health service breaking down.

The charity was brought in to help East Midlands Ambulance Service on New Year’s Day and it is supporting matrons at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

Tory prime minister Theresa May and top health bosses denied there was a humanitarian crisis, but were forced to admit the NHS was under “huge pressure”.

Amy—not her real name—is an ambulance worker from north east London. She told Socialist Worker, “While the Red Cross already helped in some areas, there absolutely is a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

“Accident and emergency departments are in meltdown—I’ve seen nurses crying on shift because the situation is so dire.”

She added, “In London, some patients have to wait on ambulance trolleys for more than two hours before they even get into A&E. Patients are then left waiting to be seen when they are unwell and in pain.”

This crisis claimed three lives at Worcestershire Royal Hospital last week. One patient died after waiting 35 hours for a hospital bed and another suffered a fatal aneurysm while waiting on a trolley.

A third patient was found dead on the hospital’s Beech Ward after being strangled by their drip feed cord. The hospital has refused to comment on grounds of patient confidentiality.

The Tories are to blame for their deaths—and there will be more.

Years of budget cuts and privatisation have combined with the destruction of social care to create the perfect storm in the NHS.

Pressure 

May said that the NHS has a “five-year plan” to deal with the pressure. But the NHS England boss Simon Stevens’ Forward View plan will not make up the lag in NHS funding—it will slash £22 billion by 2020.

And the NHS crisis will only be made worse by Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (see column, left).

May tried to distract from this crisis by hypocritically promising to “overhaul” mental health services.

But Amy said, “Because mental health services have been cut, people end up in accident and emergency departments.

“But that’s after they’ve been left to reach crisis point.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn rightly slammed the Tory-made “humanitarian crisis” and called on May to make a special statement to the House of Commons.

He should now be part of actively fighting the Tories’ assault.

The People’s Assembly called a Hunt Must Go protest in central London on Thursday.

And Health Campaigns Together has called a national demonstration in defence of the NHS on Saturday 4 March. It is backed by the Unite union and the People’s Assembly.

The Labour Party and other unions should support and build it.


Howl in fury against STP schemes to axe services

Resistance to the Tories’ plans to trash NHS services across England is growing.

Their Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), which divide England into 44 footprints, would slash hundreds of hospital departments.

They claim the STPs are necessary in order to improve patient care by “centralising” health services.

While it’s true that some procedures are best done in large hubs, the Tories’ plans are for wholesale cuts.

More than 30 GPs in Tower Hamlets in east London have signed an open letter calling for the STP plans to be halted.

It said, “We believe that it is not possible to ‘save’ £22 billion without severe cuts in service.

“The NHS is struggling to function as it is and it is a testament to all the staff who work in it that it still provides such an excellent service.”

But resistance to the STPs is growing, with local groups being formed across England to oppose them.

More than nine councils, which have to sign off on the plans, have said they will not.

They include Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham council in west London and Camden in north London.

A mass health campaign also forced Tory-run North Devon County Council was also forced to oppose its own government’s plans. This shows the potential to beat back the Tories’ assault.

Health campaigners are preparing for a “howl” of protest in central London, as part of building for a national demonstration on 4 March.

Join the Howl—Sat 28 Jan. Assemble at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, SW1A 0AA, from 12.30pm for a 1pm march to Parliament Square, followed by a march to Whitehall

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