Stop NHS cuts and privatisation – a general strike to defend the NHS

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THE CRISIS in the NHS has reached a breaking point with NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation issuing an unprecedented joint report calling for the Tories to put an extra £10 billion into the health service next year.

If this funding is not made available, they warn that the backlog of patients on hospital waiting lists will take seven years to clear.

The report states ‘anything short of £10 billion’ would force the NHS to cut services and condemn patients in pain for years while they await the outcome of Tory decisions on funding.

With 5.5 million already on the waiting lists hospital chiefs are predicting a massive increase to 13 million in the coming period as people who have put off seeking treatment during the pandemic come forward for care they should have got earlier.

In the April budget, Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak gave a totally inadequate £1 billion towards tackling the backlog. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA, said the NHS needed even more.

The BMA calculates that £19.1 billion is required to meet all the costs of non-Covid care and to deal with the appalling and dangerous conditions in hospitals.

Last week it was reported that Sunak is refusing any increase in funding and has told NHS trusts bluntly that they have already spent the ‘vast majority’ of the £1 billion the government set aside to clear any backlog so they can effectively go whistle for it.

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph last week Sunak reportedly told colleagues that Covid-19 ‘handouts can’t go on forever’.

Sunak is desperate to cut public spending in order to achieve the Tory goal of ‘balancing the books’, paying down the huge government debt run up by the Tories bailing-out bankrupt British capitalism.

In June, the government budget deficit – shortfall between spending and income – reached £22.8 billion with the Tories having to pay £8.7 billion a month in interest repayments on its debts.

This is the money Sunak intends to recover by cutting NHS funding along with cutting the wages of NHS workers through the derisory below-inflation wage offer of 3% for nurses and nothing for junior doctors.

That is not to say that the Tories don’t have plans for the NHS. Last month, it emerged that the government was in talks with private healthcare companies with the promise of a massive wave of new deals and contracts that will hand almost £200 million in profit to the privateers. The plan is to create around 7,000 extra beds in private hospitals.

At the start of the pandemic, the Tories and private health companies claimed that they were not making any profit out of offering services to the NHS.

In fact, these contracts included a ‘cost-plus’ pricing formula which guaranteed the privateers profits of between 8% and 10%.

These deals cost the taxpayer an estimated £400 million a month meaning the private companies made a fortune out of the pandemic crisis.

It also rescued the private companies from collapse as the NHS nurses and doctors (trained at public expense) that they rely on were working flat out in NHS hospitals risking their lives to save patients.

These new deals that the Tories have reached with the private health companies also massively increase their involvement in elective surgery such as hip replacement operations, plastic surgery and other non-urgent procedures.

Under cover of dealing with the huge backlog the Tories are preparing for the wholesale privatisation of the NHS. The working class is completely opposed to the privatisation of the NHS, one of the greatest gains in its history.

The Tories and the capitalist system they serve can no longer afford the NHS . It is the Tories and capitalism that must go, not the NHS!

Workers must demand the TUC call a general strike to kick out the Tories and the privateers and go forward to a workers’ government and a socialist economy.

If the TUC leaders refuse to lead any struggle to defend the health service they must be removed and replaced by a leadership prepared to fight for the NHS.

Only the WRP is building this leadership – join today.