LONDON Hospitals are at ‘breaking point’ according to a report from NHS England over a £4 billion funding gap.
NHS England (London region) director Dr Anne Rainsbury, introducing the report said that ‘A growing and ageing population, higher than ever patient expectations and zero financial growth means the NHS needs radical reform if it is to avoid a £4 billion funding gap by 2020.’
Failure to carry out this ‘radical and urgent overhaul’ of the health service will mean that hospitals will collapse under the impact of growing demand and financial cuts with the subsequent huge increase in the number of avoidable patient deaths according to the report, with increased waiting times for treatments and limited or unsafe services at the weekend. She says ‘failure’ will also mean paying for health care, ie the end of the NHS.
While putting much of the blame on people being generally unhealthy while at the same time living too long, the report does make the point that the main factor in determining people’s health is poverty.
In the deprived area of Tower Hamlets a woman can expect to, on average, live 54.1 years of healthy life while in affluent Richmond-upon-Thames this figure rises by 18 years to 72.1.
Having outlined the depth of the crisis caused by the coalition’s cuts of £20 billion to the NHS by 2015 – of which London NHS has already contributed over £3 billion so far – Dr Rainsbury gets to the heart of the matter as far as NHS England and the government are concerned when she said: ‘Investing more in hospitals is not the answer.
We need to focus more on prevention and improve our primary and community care services to co-ordinate services closer to where patients live.’
This is the message being pumped out by government and their health service appointees, closing hospitals and cutting funds is positively good for you, we must get away from running out-of-date district general hospitals and prevent you from getting ill in the first place and if you do get sick then you can be cared for in the community.
This fallacious argument falls down completely even according to its own logic because of the simple fact that community based health resources are also being cut under the government drive to smash NHS spending.
Replacing expensive general hospitals and their costly A&E units with some inadequate walk-in-centre is a recipe for disaster for the health of the population.
A prime example of this is the proposed closure of the A&E, maternity and paediatrics units at the north London Chase Farm Hospital where the local Enfield council are legally challenging closure precisely on the grounds that all the promised new primary care centres and improvement to GP services before any services could be taken away from Chase Farm have been ignored.
Of course they have been ignored, all the talk of streamlining services, of ‘improving’ the NHS by cutting its funding to the bone and the mass closure of hospitals, is just a smokescreen for the government’s real intention – to drive forward the privatisation of the entire NHS and transfer the whole of the NHS budget to the private health companies.
NHS England goes along with this entirely, despite all their talk of the NHS belonging to the people.
While the government can find trillions of pounds to prop up the banks, it will not provide even a drop of this amount for the NHS or any part of the Welfare State.
Every hospital today, as the report makes clear, faces closure at the hands of this bankers’ government – the only way they can be defended is through a campaign of occupation to prevent their physical closure along with a demand that the TUC call a general strike to remove this government and replace it with a workers government that will advance to a socialist society where the very best free health service is a basic right.
The TUC must be told that they have been considering the practicalities of a general strike now for well over a year, and basically hoping that the issue will go away. Enough is enough! It is not going to go away. They must call a general strike now!