Bma Calls For Independent Inquiry Into NHS Crisis

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A WOMAN died yesterday in an ambulance while waiting in a queue of around 15 emergency vehicles outside the A&E at Morriston Hospital in Swansea for between 30 and 40 minutes.

The Welsh Ambulance Service and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board have launched a joint review. They said they wanted to have a ‘full understanding of what happened’.

Official figures show less than 70% of patients taken to Morriston Hospital by ambulance are transferred into the care of A&E within the target 15 minutes.

Actually, what happened at Morriston Hospital, and what is happening throughout the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in particular, is that it is being subjected to cuts, A&E and Maternity unit closures, and privatisations to the point where those who want to see the end of free hospital treatment at the point of need are rubbing their hands with glee.

What happened at Morriston hospital is happening up and down the country.

On 10th September, two West London A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals were closed while the Imperial College NHS Trust, of which Hammersmith is part, announced that it is increasing its income from treating private patients from £39m to £78m. Charing Cross Hospital, which is part of the Imperial group, is having its number of in-patient beds cut from 360 to 24.

That such draconian changes can only bring disaster, in an area where millions of people live, is absolutely obvious. But that is what is happening to the NHS as a whole – a massive planned disaster to put an end to the greatest gain of the working class.

Yesterday, the Welsh section of the British Medical Association said that the Welsh NHS was facing ‘imminent meltdown’.

The BMA as well called for an independent inquiry into the health service.

BMA Welsh Council chairman Dr Phil Banfield said members’ feedback indicated the service was struggling to cope.

He said: ‘The sooner this inquiry takes place, the better. There’s a lot of sticking heads in the sand still going on.’ He added: ‘Our greatest fear is it will become impossible to have an NHS in Wales.’

At a media briefing in Cardiff, Dr Banfield said there was a desperate need to restore confidence in a health service which was unable to recruit and retain a sufficient numbers of doctors.

‘GP surgeries were closing as doctors took early retirement through disillusionment, and the reconfiguration of services was being planned in some cases not on the basis of clinical need, but because there weren’t enough doctors available to deliver them.’

Banfield, whose organisation represents 7,000 doctors in Wales, said his members felt undervalued and morale was low. The BMA had come to the conclusion that despite a succession of reports that were critical of the NHS, the Welsh Government and the employers – health boards and trusts – had not taken effective action to put things right.

He said: ‘When we notified members about our thinking, we had 450 responses in a week from consultants alone – around 25% of all the consultants working in Wales. They were full of concerns about the NHS in Wales.’

In fact, the Welsh NHS is not the exception, it is the rule.

What is required is not another inquiry, since the government, MPs, the various NHS managers and the trade union leaders know exactly what is happening: the NHS is being cut to pieces prior to its privatisation.

In fact, the trade unions, instead of looking on and accepting that the end of the NHS is nigh, must be mobilised to defend the NHS in the only way that is possible and necessary. This is by calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the government and bring in a workers government and socialism, which will defend and develop the NHS by nationalising the banks, major industries and the drug companies.