THE damning report released yesterday by the Public Accounts Committee on the effect of Tory policies towards the elderly in care homes came as no surprise.
Right from the very start of the coronavirus pandemic the clear policy of the Tories was to kick the elderly out of hospitals regardless of their medical condition and send them back to die in care homes that had absolutely no provision for dealing with the virus.
25,000 patients were discharged from hospitals in what the cross-party committee called an ‘appalling error’ with none of them tested for the coronavirus, and sent back to care homes where the staff had no protective equipment.
Indeed it was much worse than that – not only were hospitals not required to test for the virus before discharge but even those who tested positive were slung out. Two damning documents were published by the government on March 19 and 2 April.
NHS hospitals were instructed to transfer any patient no longer requiring hospital treatment out into the community or to care homes without testing. The second document actually states that ‘Negative tests are not required prior to transfers/admissions into the care home.’
A government official at the time told the Telegraph that the policy to offload hospital patients was a ‘stiff broom’ to free up hospital beds. The direct and entirely foreseeable effect of this murderous policy was soaring death rates from coronavirus as it ran like wildfire through care homes.
The Tories were given repeated warnings by health advisors in April as data came in showing that the virus was rampant in these homes despite health secretary Matt Hancock’s claiming that ‘right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes.’
In fact existing plans drawn up for dealing with a flu pandemic had always made it clear that care homes were a hot-bed of infection.
This didn’t stop Public Health England issuing a statement on February 25 in defence of the Tory policy stating that it ‘remains very unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.’
This stayed in force until March 13, by which time according to research carried out by the LSE more than 22,000 care home residents are estimated to have died in England and Wales.
According to the PAC report this policy carried out by the Tories was an ‘appalling error’ and the government’s approach has exposed the ‘tragic impact’ of ‘years of inattention, funding cuts and delayed reforms’ that has left care a ‘poor relation’ that has suffered badly in the pandemic.
In fact under the Labour government of Tony Blair 32,000 hospital beds had been cut while under the Tories between 2010 and 2017 there were fewer than 70,000 intensive care beds in the UK, leaving the NHS completely at risk of being overwhelmed.
The Tory solution to this was to dump the elderly and let them take their chances.
The generations that built up Britain after the war, and made massive profits for the bosses were left to die, sacrificed for all the cuts and privatisation forced on the NHS for the enrichment of the privateers, and to repay the debt run up bailing out the bankers after the banking crash in 2008.
What this does expose to every worker is that for capitalism the elderly are too old to be exploited for their labour, and merely a drain on capitalism.
The callous treatment of the elderly, by a capitalist system that sees workers merely as a class to be super exploited for profits, exposes that there can be no question of appealing to the Tories to get their response right in time for the inevitable second wave of the virus.
The only way the lives of the elderly and every worker and their families can be protected is through kicking out the Tories and going forward to a workers’ government and socialism.
Only a workers’ government will expropriate the bosses and bankers and set about building a socialist planned economy that will fully fund the NHS and social care sector and ensure that everyone has access to a free health service that will protect the lives of all.