THE SURGE in coronavirus cases in January hit key services including cancer and even routine surgery, NHS England figures released on Thursday exposed.
Over the last decade the Tories have declared war on the NHS, closing A&Es, maternity services, children’s departments; even entire hospitals have shut down.
Tory cuts have created the situation where the NHS has been stretched to breaking point, and with the lack of preparation for subsequent waves of Covid-19, hospitals have had to strip back their operations to concentrate on dealing with the pandemic.
Less than half the expected number of operations have been done, pushing the waiting list to a record high of 4.6m. More than 300,000 of those on the list have been waiting for more than a year for treatment, compared to 1,600 before the pandemic began. Surgeons describe this as a dire situation which will take a long time to turn around.
Over the last ten years in London alone, Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield was stripped by the Tory government of its A&E, maternity and children’s department. Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals in west London were both stripped of their A&E.
Ealing Hospital in west London lost its maternity and children’s Departments. Only a massive campaign led by the West London Council of Action stopped the A&E from being closed.
The Lewisham Hospital’s A&E in south London was threatened with closure. Only the struggle of the local community defeated the closure attempt. The London Chest Hospital, located in Bethnal Green in east London adjacent to Victoria Park, was completely shut down.
Add to this list the attack on the junior doctors’ contracts by the Tory Health Secretary of the time Jeremy Hunt, which sparked strike after strike, the removal of the student nurses’ and student midwives’ bursaries, and the axing of staff and cutting of pay, leaving the NHS 40,000 nurses short … not to mention the Tory attack on the doctors’ pension scheme … and what you have is a situation where the Tories, after cutting the NHS to the bone, disabled the NHS and left it open to the Covid-19 onslaught where, come the pandemic, it is struggling to cope.
The rapid building of Nightingale hospitals by the military was just a cruel deception – since there were not the experienced staff to run them. They have all been closed!
Tim Mitchell, of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: ‘Behind the statistics are people waiting in limbo. Many will be in considerable pain, others will have restricted mobility and be at risk of isolation and loneliness.’
To make matters worse, there were 39 per cent fewer heart operations and other heart procedures performed in January in England compared to January last year, according to the British Heart Foundation.
The figures reveal that January saw the biggest drop in the number of performed heart operations and procedures since the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in May 2020. The number of heart operations and procedures fell from around 40,800 in January 2020 to just over 25,000 in January 2021.
The figures again highlight that potentially life-saving treatment for heart patients continues to be disrupted by the pandemic. More than 4,200 people in England were waiting a year or more for their heart procedure this January, compared to just 28 people in February 2020.
So while Tory PM Johnson declares his ‘love for the NHS’, lauding NHS staff as ‘heroes’ and ‘the best of us’, the truth is that the Tories have made a very serious attempt to smash the NHS. This is why over 125,000 UK citizens have fallen to Covid-19.
Now the Tories are saying that they are rewarding the heroic nurses and doctors, and all NHS staff, with a 1% rise! The nurses are preparing for a strike. They are building up a £35 million strike fund.
The way forward is clear. The entire working class must force the TUC to call a general strike to defend the nurses and all other NHS workers.
Such an action will bring this government down and open up the way for the working class to take power in this country and establish socialism so that all closed departments and closed hospitals can be reopened, and all NHS staff, nurses, midwives and doctors are paid a proper wage. This is the only way forward!