Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/791/17838
The Socialist 4 December 2013 |
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Health service in crisis
Build action to save our NHS!
The public health service is facing another severe crisis this winter as the Con-Dems' and previous Labour governments' policies continue to wreak havoc in the NHS. They have meant billions of pounds in 'efficiency savings' ie cuts, thousands of job losses, A&E and ward closures, and unsustainable PFI privatisations. In England, the Tories' Health and Social Care Act, overwhelmingly opposed by health workers, is little more than a privatisation charter. This systematic dismantling of our public health service will only benefit the private profit vulture companies.
After years of cuts, large and small, in the cash-strapped National Health Service (NHS), Con-Dem government ministers are expecting a crisis for patients and staff alike. With fears of another cold winter, Britain's hospitals are desperately trying not to become snowed under with patients with illnesses such as flu and injuries due to falls and accidents.
Health workers are used to winter crises and many see them as part of the job, though constant attacks on NHS pay, conditions and regular stress is leading many nursing staff to leave the service.
But the Con-Dems are worried that an election is on the horizon and an NHS crisis is a vote-loser. After their cuts in frontline staff and ward closures, they have even been reopening closed wards in some areas. An increased number of emergency patients had been admitted already by October. Some of these were doubtless due to previous closures in vital services such as walk-in centres.
Clearly, the tipping point has been reached and a new disaster looms. But Tory panic measures will make little difference.
Already the Nuffield Trust health think tank has told MPs that one in three hospitals could end up in major financial difficulties within months after a huge cash squeeze to try to make 'efficiency savings' ie cut £20-£30 billion from the NHS. They say: "Many hospitals face severe and potentially unsustainable financial pressures", and so have a question mark over their future viability.
The NHS may soon no longer be able to bail out hospitals in trouble because "hospital trusts could start becoming unsustainable in larger number than the current system is designed to address", says the Trust.
So, government cuts policies are forcing many hospitals to consider severe cuts and even closures, or be told that the only solution is to let privatising firms 'help' them - for a healthy profit.
Throughout Europe, health services that are free at the point of use are under attack as big business grabs its opportunity to make big money out of people's health worries.
So as winter takes hold, the grim prospect of a new crisis in emergency services appears again.
People are angry about this assault on a vital public service but they need to get organised. Health campaigners should get behind the call for health unions to build a massive national weekend demo and for trade unions to organise a 24-hour general strike to defeat this NHS-wrecking government.
The Socialist Party fights for:
- No cuts. Abolish the Health and Social Care Act which allows the further selling off of our NHS to private companies
- End big business profiteering from the NHS: Abandon the Private Finance Initiative which is bleeding the NHS dry
- End NHS job losses and low pay. No downbanding
- A fully publicly funded NHS, free for all at the point of use
- United action to defend the NHS - the TUC must name the day for a 24-hour general strike against austerity
Defend the NHS!
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