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Operations cancelled for cancer patients as crisis grows in the NHS

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Issue 2537
Campaigners join a howl of protest against the Tories assault on our NHS
Campaigners join a howl of protest against the Tories’ assault on our NHS (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Clare Marx, Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) president, warned that cancer services are no longer protected.

“It is increasingly clear that no part of the system and no patient is immune from the pressure the NHS is experiencing,” she said.

RCS members are reporting that a large number of hospitals have cancelled operations this month.

Figures released last November showed that the NHS had missed its target of 85 percent of cancer patients receiving treatment within 62 days.

There is a growing humanitarian crisis within the NHS. More than four in ten major hospitals declared an alert in their accident and emergency (A&E) departments in the first week of this month.

Outrageously Tory prime minister Theresa May has tried to blame health workers for the disaster—and told GPs to take up the slack.


Yannis Gourtsoyannis is a junior doctor in London and sits on the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors’ committee. He told Socialist Worker, “The NHS crisis was caused by the government, not a bad winter.

“We’ve been warning them for a couple of years that the NHS was on the brink—now we’re sadly being proven right.”

The Tories’ Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will make things worse by slashing hospital departments and services across England.

But there is growing resistance to the plans. A 250-strong consultation forum for the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly STP erupted in anger last week.

Health bosses aim to slash £277 million from the local budget.

Some 100 people joined an emergency protest outside the Department of Health on Whitehall, London, on Thursday of last week.

It was jointly organised by the People’s Assembly and the Junior Doctors Alliance.

Dozens more joined a similar protest outside Bristol Royal Infirmary.


Health campaigners are now gearing up for a national demonstration in defence of the NHS on 4 March in central London.

Health Campaigns Together called the protest, which is backed by the Unite union and the People’s Assembly.

Yannis said, “It’s important for health workers and campaigners to come out onto the streets.

“The preparations are going well, with a lot of interest in the trade union movement, the Labour Party and Momentum.”

He added, “We’re in talks with the government, but the government is not listening.

“Junior doctors may need to take further industrial action later in the year.”

Maternity risks in Scotland

A British Medical Association (BMA) rep in Scotland has warned that the NHS is heading for a crisis with services “stretched to breaking point”.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon

Peter Bennie, chair of the BMA in Scotland, said staff shortages could lead to “system breakdown”.

His comments came days after Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital said it could not admit expectant mothers due to lack of space in maternity wards.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that plans for a network of trauma centres have been delayed.

Bennie said that GPs were “fed up” with this “mantra”.Shona Robison, Scotland’s health secretary, recently claimed that Scotland’s devolved health service was performing better than A&Es in England and Wales.

In reality the Scottish government’s austerity measures have left it drastically underfunded.

A report released on Tuesday of this week revealed that half of all NHS hospitals have had to temporarily turn away women in labour because they are too busy.

Labour should block the attack on the NHS

The Labour Party has called a second national campaigning day in defence of the NHS this Saturday.

The first day of action took place in November last year.

In some areas this saw rallies and protests organised alongside groups such as Keep Our NHS Public.

Yet in others, Labour simply used the time to canvass for votes.

Labour should use Saturday to build for the demonstration on 4 March and as a launchpad for a mass campaign in defence of the NHS.

Every Labour council should refuse to back the STPs.

Some have done so—and total opposition would be a significant problem for the government.

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