NHS activist Dave Platts reports on the ever-worsening healthcare crisis. Tory cuts and privatisation have put the NHS on life support. We need a socialist Labour government to save our NHS.
Smashing our society to pieces seems to be the main goal of the Tories and their friends. Whilst we are bombarded with the Brexit negotiations farce, they are slipping through – under the counter – draconian cuts that even Thatcher wouldn’t have dared to try and make.
Only a few months before Christmas, the International Red Cross declared Britain’s health service to be in a state of emergency. It was reported recently that, in one week this winter, almost 17,000 people were forced to sit in ambulances awaiting treatment. Others have been laid in corridors and waiting rooms, with children asleep on seats. Many are just stuck at home waiting for anything at all to happen.
All this is due to massive government underfunding, which has led to hospital being shut down, A&E closures, and a shortage of doctors, nurses, paramedics, ancillary workers, etc. etc. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
Starved of funds
The closure of care homes (we haven’t got one council-run care home left in Rotherham – all closed) and the cutting of funding for elderly care is putting a massive strain on our beleaguered, over-stretched hospitals. The NHS and its tireless staff are trying in vain to cope with older patients who have nowhere to go when discharged and are “blocking” beds.
The withdrawal of funding for elderly medical care has meant that care is instead being paid for by their families. This means the stripping of assets from the sale of their houses, or using money saved to leave to loved ones.
The “dementia tax”- the introduction of which was stalled due to Theresa May’s disastrous general election campaign – is back on track. In a speech to the Tory faithful, Jackie Doyle-Price, a Tory social care minister, stated that, “homes are not a financial asset to be left to children”. So that’s the reward you get for working hard and paying into the system: they’re going to have your house. (And, by the way, the NHS isn’t free – we pay taxes for it.)
Another depressing statistic is that since the Brexit result, 10,000 EU workers have left the NHS. According to the BMA, one in five EU doctors plan to leave.
Bursaries have been withdrawn for training nurses, paramedics, midwives and other crucial staff. A graduate doctor will have incurred, on average, £70,000 student debt.
The next three months will prove to be make or break for the NHS in our area and nationally. Stroke units in Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, and Bassetlaw will close. And that’s just the start. It is vital for a stroke victim to be treated and monitored in the first 72 hours. Anything less could be the difference between a full recovery or being a vegetable for the rest of your life.
Sold off to Virgin vultures
The NHS is a massive organisation. It has been the envy of the world since the Labour Party founded it seventy years ago. It is still the most cost-effective healthcare system in the world. But now the Tories are packaging it up for sale.
Our healthcare system is being sold off piecemeal, under our very noses, to the likes of Richard Branson and other private “care” organisations. It is being deliberately starved of funds. The Tory controlled press and media, meanwhile, are playing their usual role of lying or not reporting about what is really going on.
Altogether the NHS is too big for privatisation. So the plan is to break it up into packages, such as the new Sheffield Region that our council leader is diving headlong into. Then it will be sold off to the likes of Branson and all the US private healthcare companies, run under the US system called an Accountable Care System. This will then be controlled and financed by an Alternative Care Organisation, made up of big business billionaires. This band of thieves will then bundle all health finances for that region together. The profitable will be kept running; the not so profitable closed.
Health insurance cards will become mandatory and increasingly prohibitive to a population like ours who are being inexorably squeezed by the bosses.
If you have a disabled or sick child, or if you have some genetic disorder, like diabetes, heart problems, breast cancer, etc., you will have difficulty acquiring medical insurance. Needless to say, we will all have to hope that no one in the family has an accident or falls sick. 600,000 American citizens go bankrupt every year due to health fees.
In my area, we are organising a campaign to fight this unthinkable assault on our NHS. The name of our group is the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw NHS Action Group. Similar campaigns are taking place across the country. And together we will march, on Saturday 3rd February in London, to demand an end to the underfunding, cuts, and privatisation that is destroying our NHS.