|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 12 January 2018
Defend the NHS with a general strike to bring down Tories
TORY health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been told in a letter from NHS bosses that the NHS is ‘no longer able to meet the standards in its constitution’ and stands at a ‘watershed moment’. They are saying it is redundant!
The letter from Chris Hopkins, chief executive of NHS Providers, called for the Tory government to commit to increasing the NHS budget to £153 billion in the next four years and to immediately put cash in as hospitals reach breaking point.
Anyone reading this letter will be struck by the way this revelation that the NHS is dying on its feet as a result of government austerity attacks has only just occurred to these health bosses.
In trying to distance themselves from all the cuts imposed, they hope that people will overlook the fact that they were the most enthusiastic supporters of every single initiative by the Tories to cut NHS funding to the bone.
They wholeheartedly supported the Tory Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) programme which aims to close at least 44 more hospitals, downgrade others and close many more A&E departments in order to save money.
Their letter to Hunt is a disgusting smokescreen to hide their own complicity in this drive to smash the NHS by deliberately creating a crisis and preparing the groundwork for declaring the NHS a ‘failing’ service that must be privatised – the real aim of Hunt and the Tories.
They know full well that calls for extra money will be met by the Tories claiming any extra money must come from private investment.
Meanwhile, another letter sent this week to prime minister May, in stark contrast to the bosses’ letter sets out exactly the impact that all the cuts have had on the NHS.
This letter from 68 senior A&E doctors in England and Wales reveals that patients are ‘dying prematurely’ in hospital corridors as safety is compromised by ‘intolerable’ conditions.
Patients are forced to spend up to 12 hours on trolleys in corridors through lack of beds, in some hospitals this has resulted in over 120 patients a day being treated in corridors, with some dying prematurely. Thousands of patients are left stuck in the back of ambulances waiting to be admitted to A&E.
These leading A&E doctors demand an immediate cash injection and a ‘significant increase in Social Care Funding to allow patients who are fit to be discharged from acute beds to be cared for in the community’.
They go on to call for a complete review of hospital bed closures that have resulted in the loss of 16,000 beds over the past 6 years.
These doctors, in the frontline of the acute crisis in the NHS, are calling for a complete stop to hospital, ward and bed closures.
They stand in opposition to the NHS bosses who have adopted this policy and who are now trying to cover their tracks and deflect the anger of workers at their connivance with the Tories.
On Wednesday, the Labour Party had another ‘symbolic’ victory over the Tories in parliament when its motion calling for an increase in cash for the NHS didn’t even go to the vote after every Tory MP showed their contempt for the NHS by abstaining.
Apart from useless gestures, the Labour Party has done nothing to defend the NHS. There has been no calls for the Tories to resign, no campaign to bring workers onto the streets to defend the public health service, just the same old call for Hunt to go, as if one Tory health minister resigning will make any difference.
Equally the trade unions have remained shamefully inactive in defence of the NHS. They have done nothing to fight a single bed loss, let alone the wholesale closure of hospitals.
The working class must now move into action to remove leaders who will not fight to defend the NHS.
Workers must insist that the unions call an immediate general strike to kick out the Tories and advance to a workers government that will find all the money necessary to fund the NHS by nationalising the banks and big pharmaceutical companies, seizing their vast profits for the benefit of all.
Only a socialist revolution can maintain the NHS, that has saved millions of lives in the past, for the benefit of future generations.
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