The NHS is suffering an unprecedented crisis, under the pressure of government cutbacks.
The Tory policy, until recently, of limiting the NHS to annual budget rises of just 1% since 2010 - while private PFI debts have rocketed, and despite an increasing elderly population requiring care - has pushed many hospitals into financial meltdown.
King's College hospital trust in London has reported an annual deficit between £180 and £191 million. "The biggest overspend in NHS history", according to the Guardian. The NHS as a whole had a £960 million deficit in 2018.
Is it any coincidence that among the backdrop of a failing NHS, life expectancy has stopped increasing, with many working-class areas even showing a decrease?
The real reason the NHS is failing is because profit-hungry Tories refuse to provide adequate funding, continue to privatise, and make the recruitment of enough staff impossible.
There are 39,148 vacant nursing posts in the UK, thanks to the introduction of tuition fees and scrapping of bursaries for student nurses.
However, in response to these cuts, all around the country, inspiring campaigns continue to fight. In Oxford, huge public opposition and a 10,000-strong petition has put a temporary stopgap in plans to privatise cancer scanning services.
Even Oxford NHS bosses have warned privatisation could mean an 'inferior service'. This truly could be a matter of life or death.
NHS privatisation doesn't just affect patients, but staff too. 100,000 low-paid cleaners, porters, catering staff and security guards - employed by private contractors in hospitals, and therefore not entitled to NHS wages - are suffering from an increasing pay divide compared to their public sector colleagues.
This has been successfully fought against at Liverpool Women's Hospital. In a heroic strike, low-paid, privately employed workers won the same minimum wage paid to NHS employees, as well as the same rates for unsociable hours, overtime and weekends.
The creation of the NHS was an immense victory for the entire working class. It needs to be fought for, defended, and built upon - not just by health unions, but by the trade union movement as a whole.
We need mass demonstrations, building support for coordinated strike action, to kick out the Tories and reverse public sector cuts.
The Socialist Party fights for a reversal of all cuts and privatisation. A minimum wage of at least £10 an hour and a trade union struggle to win a real living wage. And a fully funded, publicly owned, democratically run, free NHS, accessible to all.
The fundamental truth is that under capitalism - a system based upon the ruling elites' pursuit of profit at any cost, even at the expense of human lives - we will never have a truly fair society. We need to fight for a socialist society that is run in the interests of everyone, not just a tiny rich minority.
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