NHS workers marching in Manchester, 4.10.15, photo Sarah Wrack

NHS workers marching in Manchester, 4.10.15, photo Sarah Wrack   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Jackie Grunsell, GP

Health workers up and down the country are bracing themselves for a winter crisis.

Even prior to the increased demand that winter places on the NHS, the situation has reached a tipping point in recent years. The cumulative effect of cuts and staff shortages year after year has left services blatantly incapable of meeting needs.

I hear regular reports from GP surgeries of 999 calls made and ambulances being unable to respond. Patients have been left waiting for as much as four hours before the paramedics reach them.

A ripple effect of slashing of social care funding means fit patients can’t be discharged, wards are full, A&Es can’t admit people, ambulances have to wait outside hospitals with critically ill patients inside and can’t get back out to attend to those who need them in the community.

It is against this background that we are being told another £22 billion of cuts are to be made in the NHS England budget. More A&E departments must close and cash starved GP surgeries will be left to wither on the vine. And the government’s misnamed ‘sustainability and transformation plans’ will cut NHS funding even more brutally.

Is it any wonder that around the country a mood of anger and rebellion is rapidly developing?

In Huddersfield the campaign to save the A&E and hospital rages on. Chorley campaigners are unrelenting in their weekly protest outside the Chorley and South Ribble A&E. Leicester is fighting to keep Glenfield children’s heart surgery unit. Thousands have been on the streets in Exeter, Barnstaple, Grantham, Banbury and many more areas where services are under threat.

These campaigns are uniting and calling a national demonstration on 4 March against NHS cuts and closures. It has the backing of Unite and the PCS unions. We are calling on Unison, which organises many health workers, to give its support also.

This is set to be an outpouring of the anger against the Tories’ deliberate underfunding and destruction of our treasured NHS. It needs to be a step towards a national united campaign – including industrial action – to save our health service.