NHS crisis can only be resolved by kicking out the Tories and going forward to a workers’ government

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THE Commons Health and Social Care Committee of MPs yesterday published a report calling on the Tory government to come up with a ‘long term plan’ to fix the staffing crisis in the NHS to deal with the huge, and growing, backlog of people waiting for operations and treatment.

A record nearly 6 million people are currently waiting for surgery – 300,000 have been waiting for over a year while the transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that 24 hospitals in England have declared critical incidents due to increasing numbers of medical staff having to isolate.

The Health Foundation estimates nearly 19,000 more nurses and over 4,000 more doctors are needed just to get back to the 18-week waiting time for treatment standard.

The committee, chaired by Tory MP and former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, called for a ‘national health recovery plan’ to be launched in April warning of the consequences of Boris Johnson’s decision to let the Omicron virus run riot in the country without any restriction.

Hunt said: ‘The current wave of Omicron is exacerbating the problem, but we already had a serious staffing crisis, with a burnt-out workforce, 93,000 NHS vacancies and no sign of any plan to address this.’

What Hunt neglected to point out is the fact that the responsibility for the massive shortages of nurses, doctors and health workers is down to successive Tory governments that drove through austerity cuts to the NHS along with privatisation that caused this crisis.

He also neglected to remind the country of the role he played as a long serving health secretary from 2012 to 2018. During his reign over 8,000 hospital beds were lost, hospital wards and entire hospitals closed down.

Hunt was responsible for cutting the payments to hospitals for patient treatment to below the cost of the treatment itself.

Then when these hospitals ran into financial difficulties as a result, he had them fined.

Hunt, who oversaw the privatisation assault on the NHS, is now putting himself and his band of Tory and Labour MPs on the committee as the defenders of the NHS, demanding long-term plans from the Johnson government.

In fact Johnson’s only ‘plan’ for the NHS to deal with the backlog is to increase National Insurance contributions by 1.25%.

Official analysis of the impact of this tax rise has revealed that this will inflict a ‘terrible’ financial burden on health and social care workers and their families. Nurses, care home staff and other health and social care workers will pay an extra £900 million in tax – 12% of the £7.4 billion the Tories expect to get from this tax rise.

NHS and social care workers who are amongst the lowest paid workers in the country are being thrown into poverty through this tax hike and the soaring inflationary increase in the cost of living to pay for the Tories war on the NHS.

Understandably the report has been welcomed by doctors with the British Medical Association saying it ‘clearly lays out the gargantuan challenge the NHS faces’ adding ‘The biggest barrier to tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic is a severe staffing crisis and our calls for improved workforce planning have thankfully been heard. It’s now time for the government to listen too.’

The Tories won’t listen to this report as Hunt knows full well. All Hunt’s sanctimonious posturing as the concerned face of the Tory Party is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the Tory plan – to make the working class pay for a health system that the Tories have systematically tried to destroy through austerity and privatisation and that is now at breaking point.

Workers will not be fooled for one minute that this report will have the slightest effect on the Tory government and will demand that the only way to fix the NHS is to force the trade unions to take urgent strike action to bring down this Tory government and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism.

Only a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy can provide all the funding and resources required to ensure that the NHS grows to meet the health needs of all.