|The News Line: Editorial
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
Welsh government plans to implement Tory drive to close hospitals and destroy the NHS
THE ANNOUNCEMENT by the Welsh government yesterday that it was embarking on a strategy to ensure patients only go to hospital when it is absolutely essential marks yet another determined push to make hospitals a thing of the past and return patients to the days before the NHS was established.
According to the Welsh health secretary, Vaughan Gething, what is being proposed is a ‘revolution from within the health service’ which involves breaking people from the idea that hospitals are the best place for you if you are sick. Instead more care would be provided in the community or at home. This is nothing less than a return to the days before the NHS when the sick were left in their homes to be looked after by relatives while a doctor popped in from time to time to check on them.
The Welsh proposals are not so much a ‘revolution’ in thinking about the NHS but a return to the days of private medicine. Of course this entirely reactionary and retrograde step is dressed up with promises about how advances in technology will be used to overcome the fact that patients will not be treated in hospitals with all the essential knowledge and equipment necessary for the best healthcare treatment. They talk of video links between patients at home and consultants or GPs, with nurses dropping by your home to deliver antibiotics, while if you are elderly, you can be safely kicked out of hospital early because follow-up care in the community has already been arranged.
This was a tactic used by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher to kick the mentally ill out onto the streets with her ‘care in the community’ programme that proved to be disastrous. All this, the Welsh government explains, will require councils, health boards and voluntary representatives to drive this work to bring health and social care more ‘seamlessly’ together.
What they don’t explain is exactly how this will work in practice at a time when councils and the privateers who dominate social care are in a state of collapse in Wales and across the entire country.
A recent survey has found that social care swallows up 38% on average of total local council spending with 78% of councils registering concerns about their ability to meet their statutory duty to provide adequate care. At the same time, private companies running social care and care homes are fleeing as their profits plummet.
48 councils in England have seen private care providers shutting down in the last 6 months, while 44 councils have had contracts to provide care handed back by companies who no longer can make the profits they once dreamt of making out of the elderly and sick.
As for hospitals being used only for the most serious medical cases, how does this square with the fact that 24 hospital A&E departments were scheduled for closure across England last year.
Between 2010 and 2016, over 60 towns and cities across the country had A&E and maternity units closed down or ‘downgraded’ to nothing more than walk-in centres. In Wales itself, three West Wales hospitals face closure this year.
Despite all the window dressing, the plan being implemented by the Welsh government is another step in the drive by the Tories to close down entire hospitals for only one purpose – to save money.
Bankrupt British capitalism can no longer afford to fund the NHS, which spent over £120 billion last year, no longer afford to keep vital hospitals and wards open.
Under the threadbare cover of ‘care in the community’ they are determined that people who cannot afford private medical treatment will be dumped on bankrupt councils or left to be cared for by their families. The National Health Service was the greatest gain made by the working class. What is clear today is that it can only be defended by kicking out this Tory government and bringing in a workers government that will expropriate all the privateers and the bankers and go forward to a socialist society that will guarantee a free NHS for all.
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