Socialist Worker

Nurse speaks out—‘Join our vital health protest’

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2588

Tens of thousands came on the  last national march for the NHS

Tens of thousands came on the last national march for the NHS (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Health workers are calling on people to join the demonstration on Saturday 3 February in central London.

Staffing figures released this week hammered home the scale of the NHS crisis. The number of unfilled nursing posts in England reached a new high of over 34,000 last year.

And some areas are recruiting only one nurse for every 400 jobs advertised

Mark, a nurse in Manchester, told Socialist Worker, “There’s not enough funding, there are not enough staff, there are not enough beds. The winter crisis has highlighted how bad things are—we need to stop cuts and privatisation.”

He added, “I work with elderly people, I sit in hospital corridors with them for hours while waiting for a bed.”

The scale of the NHS crisis is causing rows among the Tories. Boris Johnson briefed that he would call for extra NHS funding at a cabinet meeting this Tuesday.

Mark said, “They’re all self-serving. Boris is just after ­Theresa May’s job.”

The demonstration, called by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, is an opportunity to take advantage of the Tories’ problems.

We cannot wait for a Labour government—we have fight for the NHS now.


East of England ambulance delays saw 40 people die or suffer harm

At least 40 people died or were harmed in the East of England because of ambulance delays over the holiday period, according to a whistleblower.

It is another sign of the NHS crisis caused by Tory cuts and privatisation.

According to a damning dossier, passed to the Lowestoft Journal newspaper, the deaths included a man who waited 16 hours for an ambulance.

The document said the patient from Lowestoft appeared “to have frozen to death” on 27 December.

Cops called the ambulance because the man, who is believed to have been in his 50s, was sitting outside his home. The East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAS) decided not to send an ambulance because he had “no obvious injuries”.

This meant it was not logged as an emergency call, which requires a response time of seven minutes.

Some 16 hours later a second call was made by another person, who reported that the man was not breathing and in cardiac arrest.

The ambulance arrived within eight minutes—but he was already dead.

Tory budget cuts and privatisation have combined with their decimation of council-run social services.

A new report on mental health services, published by the King’s Fund think tank last week, hammers home the scale of the NHS crisis. Mental health trusts’ budgets increased by less than 2.5 percent, well below the inflation rate.

This crisis means that people are forced to seek help in accident and emergency (A&E) services. Salena, a mental health nurse in Bristol, told Socialist Worker, “Support services have collapsed so A&E is the only place they can really come.

“There’s nothing for people until they reach crisis point, but then the pressure is to get them back out.”

Labour politicians have called for funding for mental health services to be “ringfenced” and for “parity” with other services. Labour should be fighting for more funding, not trying to make the best of limited resources and just blaming the Tories.

Labour held a national campaigning day last Saturday and planned a Westminster rally with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell this Thursday.

Corbyn and the Labour Party should throw their weight behind the NHS demonstration on 3 February.

Called by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, it could bring tens of thousands onto the streets of London.

Activists across Britain have booked coaches.

In Nottingham campaigners are planning a series of events in the run-up to the demonstration, including banner drops, meetings and leafleting hospitals.

Activists need to go all out to build the demonstration in the final weeks.


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