THE SICKEST NHS patients ‘face hours on trolleys’ and in hospital corridors as the NHS desperately tries to find them beds, according to research carried out by the BBC.
Helen Buckingham, of the Nuffield Trust think tank, said it was clear there was ‘very little fuel in the tank’ when it came to staff numbers and hospital beds to cope with the coronavirus threat, amidst mounting concerns that the spread of the virus could lead to mass outbreaks in the UK.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already issued a call for every country to prepare for a coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world.
The BBC analysis of official figures showed that 199,000 patients had four-hour ‘trolley waits’ after being seen in A&E, double the number seen four years ago.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that the situation had got so bad that hospitals had started deploying nurses to work in corridors to treat patients.
While NHS bosses are claiming that there are ‘robust’ contingency plans in place to deal with an emergency of this magnitude, the truth is that the NHS has been cut to ribbons by ten years of ruthless Tory austerity cuts to the extent that it no longer has the resources to cope with the normal pressures on the service, let alone a threatened pandemic.
The appalling effect of Tory austerity, inflicted on the working class and youth in order to bail-out the banks after the economic crash in 2008, was also revealed this week by a landmark review that showed that life expectancy in the UK has stalled over the past ten years for the first time in over 100 years!
The report by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a leading expert in health inequalities, exposed that in the most deprived areas of the country life expectancy was not just stalled but was actually being reduced.
Marmot found that this was most acute amongst women in the poorest 10% of areas whose life expectancy fell between 2010-12 and 2016-18.
Marmot’s report puts the responsibility for this historic decline firmly at the door of ‘social and economic conditions, many of which have shown increased inequalities’ and called for deprived areas in the north being brought up to the level of good health enjoyed in the wealthier parts of the country – London and the south.
Marmot said in his introduction to the report that austerity has ‘taken its toll’ over the past ten years ‘From rising child poverty and the closure of children’s centres, to declines in education funding, an increase in precarious work and zero hours contracts, to a housing affordability crisis and a rise in homelessness, to people with insufficient money to lead a healthy life and resorting to food banks in large numbers, to ignored communities with poor conditions and little reason to hope.’
This is a damming indictment of the Tory austerity regime and of a capitalist system that in its historic crisis is determined to smash all the gains made by the working class in its struggle against the ruling class for wages, working conditions, education, pensions and the NHS.
In the 21st century, bankrupt British capitalism is driving workers back to the conditions of the 19th century. It also stands as an indictment of the trade union leadership that has refused to take up the fight over all the attacks on the NHS and benefits, instead restricting themselves to useless appeals for the Tories to relax austerity.
With over 4 million young children living in poverty in the UK today, with hundreds of thousands of workers and young people relying on food banks just to eat, while Universal Credit inflicts misery on claimants and over 28,000 people were recorded sleeping rough in the past year, the time has come to force the TUC to take action.
The TUC is more than willing to collaborate with the Johnson government on the eve of yet another anti-working class budget, despite the fact that the Tories are bringing in new anti-union laws.
The working class must use its huge strength to sack the TUC traitors, to launch a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and advance to a socialist society.
Only a socialist revolution can put an end to capitalist austerity and provide every worker and young person with a healthy future. There is not a moment to lose!