Tories have driven NHS to breaking point! The trade unions must call a general strike to bring them down!

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THE NHS is at breaking point! This is the warning from doctors, nurses and NHS staff, furious that the Tories did absolutely nothing to address the problems hospitals faced during the first wave of coronavirus.

NHS workers still do not have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). There are still not enough Intensive Care Units and there is a severe shortage of staff.

Staff working in the NHS are doing the job of two or three people, working over 12-hour shifts, are dog tired, stressed and underpaid. Entire wards are being cleared out to make way for oxygen beds as hospitals become ‘Covid only’.

Patients with other ailments are finding their cancer checkups cancelled, their operations indefinitely postponed, while A&Es are at capacity and queues of ambulances are piling up outside emergency departments desperate to drop off critically ill patients.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) warned yesterday that the number of hours ambulances are waiting to offload patients in parts of England is ‘off the scale’.

Data show ambulance waiting times at hospitals in the South East rose by 36% in December compared to the same month in 2019. Kent saw the greatest rise in this period. One of its hospitals, Medway Maritime Hospital, saw a doubling in ambulance waiting times.

Royal College of Emergency Medicine Vice President Adrian Boyle said: ‘It is not because more ambulances are being called. It’s because the amount of time they’re spending outside a hospital has increased.’ Dr Boyle said ambulances left queuing outside hospitals meant crews were not available to respond to other emergencies. He said: ‘This is the worst winter crisis I’ve been through in my 25 years of practising as a doctor.’

The Tory government is directly responsible for this crisis, their cuts are costing lives. The Tories have spent the last ten years closing down children’s departments, maternity wards, A&Es and entire hospitals, ‘losing’ over 100,000 beds. The Tories imposed an unfair and unsafe contract on junior doctors, attacked doctors pensions, snatched away the student nurses and midwives’ bursary and added insult to injury by refusing to give the nurses a pay rise.

In fact, the ‘advanced’ capitalist countries are at the centre of the crisis, with the USA suffering 367,000 deaths and over 21 million infections while in the UK there have been over 78,500 deaths and 2.89 million infections, with currently over 1,000 dying a day and over 6,000 new infections every day.

In China, however, New Year’s Eve saw massive crowds on the streets. They have beaten the virus, and they did it extremely efficiently with minimal casualties.

As soon as it became apparent what they were facing, they locked down. People in Hazmat suits brought food and supplies to everybody’s homes. They then systematically went door-to-door, testing and tracing who had contracted the virus, and if they were positive, removing them to specially built hospitals. In Wuhan they built hundred-bed hospitals in two weeks.

China has the massive advantage of having a nationalised and planned economy where the health of the people comes first.

But here in capitalist Britain, where the pursuit of profit rules the day, the virus was let rip. There was never any attempt to contain it, and we were told that we must all ‘learn to live with it’. Johnson was desperate to keep the economy going at any cost. And it is the working class that paid the price.

The Tories have pushed the UK’s national debt to over £2.4 trillion to try to save bankrupt capitalism. Tory Chancellor Sunak is now underlining the need to ‘balance the books’.

This means a March 3 budget that will declare war on the working class, and see prices in the shops rocketing, taxes shooting up, pensions and wages cut, and jobs axed by the hundreds of thousands.

Now is the time to fight, for all the unions to be called out together. The TUC must be made to call a general strike to bring this government down and go forward to a workers government and socialism. This is the only way out of the crisis!