The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 7th June 2013
ACCIDENT and Emergency services in England’s NHS hospitals are in crisis and deteriorating. Last week official figures showed that waiting times to see a doctor in A&E departments are now the highest for nine years. In the first three months of this year with 313,000 patients had to wait longer than the four-hour target to see a doctor.
This is an increase of up to 39 per cent compared to last the same period last year and amounts to nearly six per cent of all A&E patients.
There are many reasons for the deterioration, most of which are the result of changes brought in by the Con-Dem Coalition since they came to power in 2010.
Too many A&E departments have been closed, putting added pressure on those that remain. But the Government plans to close a lot more.
Too many NHS and local authority support systems that look after the long-term sick and elderly in the community have been cut or drastically reduced through the austerity spending cuts, leaving patients health to fall to life-endangering levels before anyone notices and an ambulance has to be called.
The NHS Direct telephone health advice service has been abolished and replaced by NHS 111, which is not staffed by qualified health professionals. When uncertain the NHS 111 staff are more likely to advise callers to go to A&E for a check to be on the safe side.
The Government tries to blame patients by saying that those with lesser injuries should go to their GPs or minor injury units — most of which have been closed.
There are people who have not or cannot register with a GP — the homeless, asylum seekers and so on who can only access any health care at all through A&E.
And there is a grand agenda being played out to reduce the need for A&E use by providing more care in the community, especially for people with long-term illnesses and/ or disabilities.
A report issued last week by the Academy of Royal Colleges, the NHS Confederation and patient group National Voices says that the NHS faces financial ruin and is no longer sustainable in its current form.
It says that hospitals may have to be closed and major changes to the way the health service is run should be brought in to help pull it back from the brink of collapse.
It does not seem to have considered cancelling private finance initiative contracts and other private sector parasites that are draining £billions from the NHS as a way of solving the financial crisis.
The alliance has set out a series of recommendations to rescue the crisis-hit service, including a major transfer of services away from hospitals and into the community, an increase in the number of GP surgeries and health centres and greater investment in district nursing and social care.
But, as Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health service managers, said it “would be like changing the engine while the car is still running”.
It is no good closing hospitals and A&E departments while there is no funding or provision for these extra services in the community.
The problems in A&E are having a knock-on effect on other hospital departments, and there has been a steep rise in the number of planned operations cancelled due to emergency admissions being given priority. And this includes operations for cancer patients.
A separate analysis by Monitor, which regulates the elite foundation trusts accounting for two-thirds of NHS services, found evidence that performance in areas such as cancer care, non-emergency operations and infection control could be deteriorating because of the growing pressures.
But the Government should not be asking which bits of the NHS need to be cut to fit the budget — it should be asking how can we raise the budget to fit the needs of the whole NHS.
And this means making the filthy rich pay their taxes. If they closed all the gaps that allow wealthy businesses and individuals to avoid their taxes there would be no problems.