A REPORT from the independent health think-tank, the King’s Fund, has revealed that the NHS is systematically being destroyed through government-imposed financial cuts.
The Fund canvassed chief executives and finance managers of NHS trusts and commissioning bodies across England about the effect of the Tory-led coalition government’s demand that the health service make cuts of £20 billion by 2015.
Two-thirds of them reported that they could not make the financial cuts imposed without seriously damaging patient care.
Already, the NHS has made £10 billion of productivity ‘savings’ and, according to Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund, ‘it is clear the NHS will struggle to meet its £20bn productivity target, with potentially serious consequences for patient care’.
He added: ‘The reality for hospitals is that they face an uncomfortable choice between whether to prioritise the quality of services for patients or allow performance in some areas to slip in order to balance the books.’
In fact, they will be allowed no such choice – they are being told to make all these savage cuts and, when the inevitable happens and patients die because of them, then the blame will be laid squarely at the door of ‘uncaring’ nurses and doctors.
This is precisely what happened at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust.
The next step for the government will then be to declare that these hospitals are failing and must be put into ‘special measures’, taken over and closed down or privatised.
The mechanism for achieving this plan to close down District General Hospitals in the name of ‘improving’ patient care was set in motion this week with the first new-style inspection of a hospital carried out by the Care Quality Commission.
These inspections, which started at Croydon District General Hospital, involves up to thirty ‘inspectors’ swooping down on a hospital and carrying out what is termed an ‘Ofsted-style’ inspection.
Like the Ofsted inspections in schools, the hospitals will be rated with those achieving anything less than ‘excellent’ ratings put straight into special measures.
Anyone who has the slightest connections with schools knows full well that Ofsted inspections are not – as was originally claimed – designed to help schools improve.
They are used exclusively by the government to declare schools to be failing and push them into ‘Academy’ status, outside the control of local authorities and into the arms of the private companies who control Academies.
This is exactly what is planned for hospitals.
Hospital privatisation goes hand-in-hand with the proposal being put forward that the only way to achieve the cuts demanded – cuts that a senior official in the department of health admitted are due to rise from £20 billion to £50 billion – is for the NHS itself to start charging for GP appointments and some surgical procedures to start with.
This spells the end of the NHS as a free at the point of delivery universal health care system and marks the return of a completely privatised health service.
All these cuts are being carried out to save billions of pounds to be used by the government to pay off the debts run up by the banks and by the huge economic crisis of world capitalism.
To save the bankers, the NHS is to be sacrificed and workers be faced once again with the fear of not being able to afford medical treatment – something previously thought eradicated with the founding of the welfare state.
The only way to prevent this massacre of the NHS is to take action immediately.
Every hospital or service threatened with closure must be occupied and local councils of action built in all areas to organise and defend these occupations.
Together with occupations must be the demand that the trade union leaders call an indefinite general strike to kick out the government and replace it with a workers government that will advance to a socialist society where free health care is guaranteed for everyone.