Socialist Worker

Tory cuts gave the NHS one of its worst ever winters—and there’s more to come

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2556

Tory health secretary and NHS wrecker Jeremy Hunt

Tory health secretary and NHS wrecker Jeremy Hunt (Pic: Flickr/Ted Eytan)


Hospitals in England “endured one of the worst winters on record” this year, according to damning new research by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The figures released on Friday show the scale of the deepening crisis into which the Tories have plunged the NHS.

Some 94 of the 152 NHS foundation trusts in England had a “major alert” at least once between December 2016 and this March. These are issued when hospitals are finding it hard to cope with the number of patients seeking care.

Waiting times at accident and emergency departments increased.

A record 91.4 percent of beds on hospital wards were occupied in the first three months of 2017. Hospitals have not reached the recommended bed occupancy rate of 85 percent or less for 15 years.

Antisocial Tories create an uncaring society
Antisocial Tories create an uncaring society
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This forced many hospitals to close their doors to new patients.

It came to a head when doctors reported that there were no available beds at infants and children’s intensive therapy units (ITUs) throughout England.

The number of hospital beds in England has dramatically fallen by 40,000 in the last 20 years to barely over 100,000.

Across Britain there are 2.7 beds per 1,000 people in the population, the second lowest number in Europe.

All this poses a serious threat to patient safety and lives.

The situation will only get worse if the Tories successfully push through their Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), aiming to slash £22 billion from the NHS by 2020/21 under the guise of “centralising” care.

A big part of the STPs involves shifting the focus of health care from hospitals to “primary care” provided in the community.

But council budget cuts have decimated social care and community services. Theresa May’s humiliating U-turn over her dementia tax shows how much worse the Tories want to make it.

They want to avoid the issues of the NHS and social care because their vicious policies make them vulnerable.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged a moratorium on the STPS and a sharp injection of much-needed cash into the NHS.

The crisis is a reminder of why we should fight to get the Tories out—and vote Labour on 8 June.

But it will also take mobilisations on the streets to beat back their attacks.


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