NHS bed & staffing crisis is a ‘Grenfell Tower waiting to happen’ – Call a general strike to defend the NHS!


THE NUMBER of NHS beds has halved in the last 30 years and proposals to slash bed numbers even further will make the ‘NHS a Grenfell disaster waiting to happen’ doctors have warned.

The King’s Fund report showed that overall, bed numbers have dropped from 299,000 to 142,000 since 1987, at a time when the population has risen by 16 per cent, with the number of pensioners up by one third.

The British Red Cross has already warned that the NHS was facing a ‘humanitarian crisis’ the like of which you would see in a country in the middle of a war or natural disaster. This NHS disaster however, is completely ‘man made’ in fact it has been manufactured by a Tory government hell bent on smashing up the National Health Service, one of the great gains of the working class.

A junior doctor from Oxford, Dr Rachel Clarke speaking last month at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference warned of an imminent winter crisis. She said: ‘We know that patients will die, probably on trolleys again this year because there is not enough funding for a safe standard of care. The NHS is a Grenfell Tower waiting to happen.’

Her analogy with Grenfell was like a chilling premonition. Earlier this week we find out that the very same company responsible for installing the flammable cladding and lethal insulation on the Grenfell Tower has now been put in charge of the estate management at the Whittington Hospital in Archway north London!

Yesterday, after an immediate outcry of shock, horror and anger, Southend Hospital in Essex was forced to make a show of distancing itself from a pilot scheme where patients could be discharged from hospital early to complete their recovery in people’s spare rooms in the local area.

Southend Hospital, made a temporary retreat putting out a statement saying that it has ‘no intention… to support the pilot at this time’. The plan remains to bung local residents up to £1,500 per month to care for patients. ‘No previous care experience is required.’

In fact, if a patient then suffers a stroke in the night, or falls out of bed, the local residents and the hospital would be held legally responsible for the care. Obviously saving money at the expense of care is a risk worth taking for NHS England. Meanwhile, the number of patients in England being readmitted to hospital within 30 days of discharge has risen by nearly a quarter in the last four years, Healthwatch reported. The watchdog said that one in five of these potentially distressing readmissions happen 48 hours after being sent home.

This is a direct result of the NHS losing over 100,000 beds, and hospitals being put under immense pressure to bring down the number of delays by freeing up hospital beds because of rising waiting lists for operations and increasing delays in A&E. In other words patients are being tipped out of their hospital beds before they have fully recovered.

Yesterday, NHS Scotland announced it is planning to cut a further £445 million from its hospitals in order to ‘balance the books’. Another nail in the coffin of the NHS, hammered in by the SNP! Adding to the UK NHS crisis is the severe shortage of nurses and midwives which is now beyond crisis point. The amount of students applying to become nurses or midwives has plummeted since the Tories axed the student nurses and midwives bursary.

This had enabled them, up until this September, to study for free at university. Now to become a nurse or a midwife, you will end up in over £50,000 worth of debt. All to land a job with 12-hour shifts and poverty pay. There are reports of nurses forced to visit foodbanks because they are struggling to put food on the table on their current wages.

The crisis in the NHS has been manufactured in order to privatise the NHS, and then bring in fees and health insurance and do away with the free health system we have today. This is something which the working class cannot and will not accept. The entire strength of the working class must be organised in a general strike, to bring down this hated Tory government, and bring in a workers’ government to defend the NHS by nationalising the drug companies and the banks to bring in socialism.