NHS   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Roger Davey, Somerset Socialist Party

The decision by the main acute hospital in Western-super-Mare to stop admitting patients due to a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases, clearly illustrates the dangers of easing lockdown.

The Western General Hospital has reported a sharp increase in Covid-19 among patients which, according to a leaked source, has spread to general wards, and has also triggered an outbreak among staff.

This clearly shows the inadequate PPE provision throughout the NHS which leaves health workers totally exposed to any upturn in the coronavirus infection rate.

It has also meant that all other health services in the hospital have been stopped, including accident and emergency. This reflects what has been happening throughout the country, with the result that treatment is being deferred, and many illnesses are going undetected.

Unsurprisingly, the government is now planning to greatly expand the use of private beds in order to cope with the backlog, even though many NHS beds are empty at the moment! It’s clear that the Tories and the private health companies see Covid-19 as an opportunity to further privatise the NHS.

The situation in the Western General clearly shows that a national second wave of the pandemic will have a devastating impact, not just on the NHS, but also on the health of care workers everywhere. That’s why the premature opening up of schools and workplaces is potentially catastrophic.

Trade unions must build solidarity across every sector in order to save lives. That movement can then move on to fight for a society that puts the interests of working people, before that of big business profits.