EVERY week without fail, doctors, medical journals, and health experts produce authoritative studies that ram home the fact that under this Tory-led coalition government every branch of the NHS from hospitals to general practices, from psychiatric services to care for the elderly, have had their finances cut to the point where the entire NHS is effectively bankrupt.
The latest crisis revealed this week is research carried out the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), showing that cuts in funding and investment has led to a situation where GP surgeries are so overstretched already that they cannot meet patient demands and this crisis can only increase to the extent that next year 50 million appointments to see a GP will have to be turned down.
When the RCGP honorary treasurer Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard said the situation has reached crisis point she was, if anything, understating the devastation facing the NHS.
She said: ‘No GP wants to turn away a single patient – but surgeries are being faced with no choice because they don”t have the resources to cope with the increasing number of older people who need complex care, whilst also meeting the needs of families and people of working age. The profession has been brought to its knees both by a chronic slump in investment and the fact that there are now simply not enough family doctors to go around.’
Savage cuts in funding has meant spending on general practices falling by £10 million in the year 2012/13, the year just before the government abolished primary care trusts replacing them with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs whose boards were comprised of doctors with shares in private medical companies and representatives of these privateers.
Now the chickens have well and truly come home to roost as all the money leeched out of the NHS by this not so backdoor privatisation has resulted in NHS and foundation trusts as a whole being ‘at least £100 million in deficit’ last year compared to a surplus of £383 million the year before, according to research carried out by the Nuffield Trust.
Already 60 GP surgeries in some of the most deprived areas of the country are reported to be about to close because of cash and staff shortages, according to the medical journal Pulse.
Last year, 5.77 million visits to hospital A&E departments were caused by people unable to get a GP appointment, but even this option will soon no longer be available as the government carries on its drive to close down A&E departments and entire hospitals, selling off the land to speculators.
This is a vicious circle – close down GP surgeries, close down hospitals and drive everyone into the arms of private medicine and the massive health insurance industry – an industry that will provide the new head of NHS England to oversee a complete privatisation of the NHS.
While the Tories and their LibDem partners have been driving through this plan, the refusal of the TUC to do anything about it has been downright treacherous.
It has not called a single action to defend the NHS from all the cuts and closures imposed in order to bail out bankrupt British capitalism and repay the massive debts run up by the banks.
Instead, the TUC leaders have sat on their hands saying that all that can be done is to wait for the general election and hope for a Labour government, while ignoring the fact that Miliband and Balls are committed to carrying out exactly the same cuts as the coalition.
The only way to defend the NHS is to demand that these leaders call general strike to bring down the coalition and replace it with a workers government and socialism, if they refuse they must be removed and replaced with a new leadership that will fight.
Support the Young Socialists march to the TUC Congress which is demanding that the hospitals must not be allowed to close and to force the TUC to call the general strike now!