It emerged last week that a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS has forced the Red Cross to intervene in UK hospitals, with Red Cross staff now working in 20 A&E departments across the country due to the lack of staff and beds. Such horror stories are a damning indictment of the Tory government and the capitalist system they represent.
Last week – a week in which, by Wednesday, top bosses had earned as much since New Year’s Day as the average worker will earn this entire year – it emerged that a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS has forced the Red Cross to intervene in UK hospitals. The Red Cross warning, which came as a result of a large increase in requests for Red Cross help in hospitals, was dismissed by Justine Greening, a member of Mrs May’s Tory cabinet, as “inappropriate”. Yet Red Cross staff are now working in 20 A&E departments across the country.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the Red Cross, responded by saying that the warning was justified due to the scale of the “threat” facing the NHS, where levels of staffing and beds have been described by Dr Holland, the President of the Society for Acute Medicine, as “at third world levels”.
Stories from across the country back this up: In December, two people died in a Worcestershire hospital after having been left unattended on trolleys for hours. The Office for National Statistics showed that in 2015 two people died from starvation or dehydration every single day in NHS hospitals. In December 2016, A&E departments shut their doors to new patients 140 times. Adamson stated that:
“We see people discharged from hospital to chaotic situations at home, falling and not being found for hours, not being washed because there is no carer to help them. These are people in crisis and in recent weeks we have started talking about this as a humanitarian crisis. We don’t say this lightly and we have a duty to say it.”
May’s vague statements about NHS funding have been criticised by watchdogs in the past. A few months ago, she was reprimanded by a watchdog over a claim that the NHS would gain £10 billion in funding, and yet none of that money ever appeared. But Mrs May batted these accusations aside, simply denying that the there was any crisis in the NHS crisis. In the same interview, she also dismissed criticisms over the underfunding of children’s mental health services, claiming that this crisis can simply be solved with a “social effort” to “remove the stigma” of mental health issues, rather than by providing decent funding for medication, counselling and beds. Presumably, under the Tories, this will be done at as low a cost as possible.
For the healthcare system in the world’s fifth largest economy to be in a “humanitarian crisis” is a disgrace – but it is only the most recent catastrophe for workers in the UK. Austerity measures implemented since the beginning of the economic crisis have slashed vital services across the board, such as housing, social services, and healthcare.
This is the result of the crisis of capitalism, whereby austerity is required as a necessary measure to protect the failing capitalist system – all at the expense of everyday people. These horror stories, and many others alongside, show that capitalism has become a disaster for workers, even in the world’s largest economies.