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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2017

40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies

"I've been placed in charge of wards without defibrillators"

Nurses and doctors marching to save the NHS, 4.3.17, photo davidmbailey photography

Nurses and doctors marching to save the NHS, 4.3.17, photo davidmbailey photography   (Click to enlarge)

Kick out all the cutters and private profiteers

Beth, nurse, Wales

There are 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies across the country.

Experienced nurses are quitting because of the strain and there's a 6% drop in students taking nursing degrees this September. With fewer nurses training to take their places, the crisis can only intensify.

So thousands of members of nurses' union RCN converged on parliament on 6 September to protest against the 1% public sector pay cap.

Despite innumerable SOS-calls to successive governments, the nursing profession is in worsening crisis. This is against a background of an NHS in meltdown and society-wide austerity. Since 2010, nurses have seen a 14% real-terms cut in their pay.

If the figures appear bleak, the reality on the wards is bleaker still.

Nurses can seldom provide safe care. Wards are often staffed primarily with agency nurses. As an agency nurse, I have been placed in charge of wards without defibrillators.

The crisis has become so acute that there aren't enough agency nurses to fill vacant shifts. Wards frequently close because of short staffing.

Working in palliative care, I comfort relatives who cannot be with their dying loved ones because they cannot afford transport or time off work.

Relatives sit at loved ones' bedsides already worrying about affording their funeral. Patients' last wishes, to die at home, go unfulfilled because there are no district nurses to take on their care.

The Tory government has shown its weakness and promised to end the pay cap. But lifting the cap - although vital - will not be enough.

The protests are not just about pay. Fundamentally, they are about a profession failing under the weight of a collapsing health service.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his ilk lie about the severity - at times even the existence - of the crisis. May has been derisive of our plight.

By contrast, Corbyn's promise of investment to help close the NHS funding gap is a good start. To really solve the problems he'll also need to kick out the private profiteers and nationalise big pharmaceuticals.

The RCN has promised to ballot for industrial action. Nurses must vote to strike. We need coordinated strikes across trade unions.

Scrap 'PFI' privatisation schemes, and bring the whole health service into public ownership under the democratic control and management of workers and service users. To make these changes complete and permanent, healthcare workers and the wider working class must fight for a socialist society.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 13 September 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories retreat on pay cap

"I've been placed in charge of wards without defibrillators"

Rate of black imprisonment worse than US

Tories 'flouting duty' on poison air, says UN


TUC congress 2017

NSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

TUC congress 2017: time for action on pay


Workplace news and analysis

Union victory at the Bank of England

Bus safety: we won't be distracted from public ownership

CWU members prepare for industrial action at Royal Mail

Barts strike - 'Up the ante' if necessary

McStriker addresses Greenwich trade unionists

Sports Direct's broken promises


Socialist Students

Kick out the Tories, fight for free education!

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

Young Socialists launched in Greater Manchester


International socialist news and analysis

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?


The fight in Labour

Readmit the socialists - for a federal Labour Party


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands march in Bristol - mayor needs real anti-cuts strategy

Boost to Chatsworth NHS campaign


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Intimate insight into a revolutionary icon

Trotsky's "insightful and frank examination" of revolution out soon

The Socialist inbox

New documentary asks women how their bodies are sexualised and policed


 

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RCN:

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