Downloading PDF. Please wait...

Letters—cuts and short staffing have pushed A&Es into chaos

This article is over 2 years, 1 months old
An hours-long wait in a crowded A&E shows what the NHS crisis means for staff and patients
Two health workers in scrubs stand at the gates of Downing Street with a banner reading "You failed the public, you failed the NHS, Boris must go

NHS workers are suffering after years of cuts, and months of Tory Covid failures (picture: Guy Smallman)

My 83-year-old mother waited eight hours at an NHS A&E the other week after a fall. The broken state of the NHS after a decade of cuts and a couple of years of pandemic was a shock to me. The most galling thing was the exhaustion on the faces of all the staff.

We arrived just after 8:50pm on a weekday and the room was packed. There were three queues. The first, snaking between rows of seating, was simply to register that you had arrived. If you weren’t lucky enough to have a friend or relative you had to stand in line, however ill you were.

Or you would hope the overstretched security guard or another patient would save your place. It was so crowded that NHS staff tried to introduce a “one companion per patient” rule. Imagine how this went down with parents. The security guard said he couldn’t enforce it.

After 45 minutes we got to register, then sat in the second queue to speak to a second admin staff member. I overheard one say to her colleague, “You think this is bad, on my last shift there was a queue of ambulances outside right down the back”.

Now we joined the third queue, waiting for a triage nurse. Each time a consulting room door opened several people would rush up to ask when they would be seen.

Eventually the loud speaker asked for them to stop. Chairs were marked for social distancing, but the room was far too crowded. We waited another hour.

The nurse said my mother needed a doctor. So we joined a fourth queue. Someone else waiting asked me why the NHS staff were so rude, but given the circumstances they seemed incredibly tolerant.

For people who arrived by car, the car park charged while you waited. My mum was eventually cleared after 5am.

I spoke to a friend who had a similar experience recently and had an even longer wait. There is a strength in the resilience of the NHS staff and patients. But outside hospitals we need to rage at what is being done.

Ken Olende

East London

Behind Lutfur rahman’s victory

Nigel Farage has invoked the idea of vote rigging by postal ballot to challenge the validity of the election of Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets’ mayor.

It is true that postal voting has made vote rigging easier by effectively undermining the secrecy of the ballot. But it suits Labour and the Tories as it makes it easier for them to harvest their core votes with a much-reduced number of activists.

There is no evidence there was any vote-rigging. Rahman won because of the attacks on the council workforce and Labour’s cuts to council services.

Resentment in the borough has become focussed on local traffic neighbourhoods which have led to unpopular road closures. This enabled Rahman to build support across ethnically diverse working class communities, according to his Tory opponents.

But there is another important factor. In 2018 Labour easily won the election despite having credible opponents of Bangladeshi heritage.

The difference is that in 2018 Jeremy Corbyn led Labour. He had a history of support for the Palestinian people and opposition to war on Muslim countries.

In 2022 Keir Starmer leads Labour. He has witch-hunted out critics of the state of Israel. And he has introduced a loyalty pledge to Nato, which invaded Afghanistan and bombed Libya. Not surprisingly, many Muslim people in Tower Hamlets have concluded that Labour is not on their side.

Rob Hoveman

West Yorkshire

A tale of two flags—and one Palestinian city

When Israeli forces attacked the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jerusalem, one of their aims was to seize Palestinian flags. Israeli authorities summoned Shireen’s brother and told him to instruct mourners not to carry Palestinian flags.

After beating pallbearers carrying her coffin draped in a flag, cops then broke the window of her hearse to snatch it. Just a week later, Israel’s government approved the annual “flag march” through east Jerusalem.

Israeli citizens will march, celebrating the anniversary of its capture in 1967—taunting Palestinians who have lived under occupation ever since. This is settler-colonialism. Israel denies Palestinians their identity—then rubs its own in their face.

Denise Brodbeck


Royal Mail workers in Grampian and Shetland hold placards that say I'm voting yes

Royal Mail workers are getting ready for a strike ballot (Picture: CWU)

How to fight the cost of living class war

Postal workers, members of the CWU union, look set to ballot for strikes for an above inflation pay rise.

The CWU’s strength lies in its workplace reps who are organising gate meetings. The CWU has tried to coordinate action among other unions, with limited success. Anti-union laws limit the TUC union grouping to demonstrations and lobbying.

On the ground there is a different story. University and college workers have fought over pensions, pay, equality and workload. Rail workers have had a perpetual struggle in the privatised rail sector. Bus drivers have had some success in securing pay awards. Truck drivers have had substantial pay rises.

Yet the sacking at P&O ferries shows how employers can break the law with impunity. Meanwhile unions that breach anti-union laws can be bankrupted through sequestration, and their leaders even jailed. Without elected representatives in government dedicated to the cause of labour it falls on workers to defend what we have.

Tam Dewar

CWU divisional rep Scotland (personal capacity)

Britain First’s nods to Nazis

The leaflet for the Nazi Britain First’s candidate in the recent council election in Salford refers to Labour and the Tories as the “Old Gang politicians”. This is the exact term that Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s always used.

This is surely a conscious and deliberate echo of Nazis of the past.

Raphael Pigott

By email

Why can’t we fire Johnson?

In 1991 we managed to oust Margaret Thatcher by taking to the street. In doing that we showed the rest of her government that we no longer wanted her.

It happened then why can’t it happen now?

Thomas Ness

On Facebook

What to do with statues?

Good points about why slaver Robert Geffrye’s statue in east London has to go. But they are still putting up statues to celebrate others who don’t deserve to be honoured.

Look at the statue to Margaret Thatcher in Grantham. A waste of money. The fact we are still doing this archaic form of worship is obscene and backward.

Neil Jackson

On Facebook

  • Leave statues where they are and put an informative plaque up instead. You can’t change history—just learn from it.

Sarah McBride

On Facebook

  • But history is constantly changing. We research and learn, then we update and revise our theories.

Marie-Louise Faulds

On Facebook

  • Put all these statues in a museum—specifically, an underwater one. You could charge divers to have a look and it would make a decent artificial reef for the fish.

Mark Sohn

On Facebook

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance