THIS week, the Tories’ criminal liability for the deaths of thousands of health care workers, the elderly and the disabled was revealed in two reports.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) found that, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals had a blanket ‘no admissions’ policy for care home residents who were regularly refused any hospital treatment in April and May.
Along with refusing treatment, the policy of the Tories was to kick the elderly out of hospitals without testing if they had coronavirus.
In fact, government guidelines instructed hospitals that even if they tested positive they should be sent back to care homes to die. The QNI report also exposed the blanket issuing of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders on care home residents.
One in 10 care home staff was told to change DNR orders for their residents, not just the frail and elderly but also younger people with disabilities.
A DNR order means that if a resident stopped breathing or went into cardiac arrest they would be denied medical attempts to resuscitate them and left to die.
Labour Party shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘To have left care home residents and staff not just unprotected and exposed to Covid-19 but to have put in place procedures that actively allowed Covid-19 to spread in care homes is an atrocious failure of Boris Johnson.’
This was no ‘atrocious failure’ by Johnson. It was the outcome of a deliberate Tory policy of ‘herd immunity’ and, according to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leadership, including Ashworth, were fully aware of it.
The Tories have always denied that the government followed the strategy of herd immunity, designed to protect the capitalist economy even if it means the sick and elderly die.
In an interview last week, Corbyn revealed that just before standing down as Labour leader both he and Ashworth attended a meeting with Tory ministers where they were given a ‘lecture’ on herd immunity and how it would be built by allowing people to die.
Workers will question why it has taken Corbyn so long to confirm that this was a deliberate policy of the Tories and why even today Ashworth has declined to confirm what was said at this meeting.
Not a mistake by Johnson but a fully developed strategy that was only put on the back burner by the masses of workers and their families refusing to put their lives at risk by obeying the Tory insistence on working to save the profits of the bosses.
The scale of the deaths inflicted as a result of the Tory strategy was underlined this week when data from the Health and Safety Executive revealed over 6,500 health and care workers may have been infected with coronavirus contracted at work, including 100 who died as a result.
These findings have led to demands for a thorough investigation under the Health and Safety at Work Act of hospitals and care homes, with the prospect of them being prosecuted if it is found they did not take adequate steps to protect staff from infection.
However, the issue is not prosecuting individual hospitals and care homes but dealing with this Tory government that alone bears the criminal responsibility for deliberately pursuing a strategy of throwing NHS and care workers, along with the elderly and disabled, to the wolves in order to keep the bosses in profit.
On Wednesday night, nurses and NHS staff from across London marched on Whitehall demanding a pay rise after the Tories demonstrated their contempt for NHS workers by refusing to include them in pay increases awarded to other public sector workers.
NHS workers should not march alone against this Tory government. The working class must demand that the TUC call the entire trade union movement out in defence of the NHS and to bring the real criminals to account by calling a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government.
A workers government will expropriate the bosses and bankers and put an end to a bankrupt capitalist system that puts profit above the lives of workers by replacing it with socialism. This is the way forward.