Lead story

The Tories are killing the NHS

by Daphne Liddle

LABOUR leaders are calling for an emergency summit on how to alleviate the current crisis affecting an increasing number of hospitals throughout the country.

Currently nine major hospitals have declared major incident status, which means they are operating on a crisis basis; routine operations are being postponed; staff from different departments are being transferred to the Accident and Emergency units and very expensive agency nurses are being drafted in.

Patients are being held waiting on trolleys in corridors, ambulances are unable to unload their patients and are being kept in queues outside A&E departments and target waiting times are being exceeded everywhere.

The hospitals are reporting record high levels of patients coming to A&E departments and yet so far this has been a relatively mild winter. There could be a lot worse to come.

All of this has been entirely predictable. The last two years has seen swathes of hospital A&E departments closed, putting impossible pressure on those that remain open.

The Government is advising people to stay away from A&E units unless it is a life-or-death emergency. But general practitioner surgeries have also been under enormous pressure leaving patients with serious but not urgent conditions with nowhere to go.

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Set the Truth Free in London Christmas protest

by Theo Russell

RELATIVES of victims of the conflict in the north of Ireland held protests outside Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence in London just before Christmas as part of a new campaign to bring pressure on the Irish and British governments to implement agreements made in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the 2006 St Andrews talks.

The action was organised by Set the Truth Free, a new coalition of groups and individuals calling for a full independent inquiry into all deaths of the Troubles where the facts are not known or are contested. The relatives also met with MPs at the House of Commons.

The relatives brought shoes, photos and other mementos of those who died as part of a mobile exhibition, [In Their Footsteps]. Similar events have taken place Belfast, Derry and Dublin.

A coalition of organisations, including the Pat Finucane Centre, Bloody Sunday Trust, the Ballymurphy Massacre families and many others have joined the campaign, but no banners or flags are permitted at their events so that families and individuals don’t have to identify with any particular group or campaign.

The group is led by John Teggart, who speaks for the families of 11 people shot dead by British paratroopers in Ballymurphy, West Belfast, shortly before Bloody Sunday. His father, Danny, was among those who died. :

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Happy New Year

A HAPPY New Year to all our readers and may it be the year when we finally get rid of this savage and cruel Con- Dem Coalition. The chances for a Labour win in May should be good: the Tories are hated for policies that have brought about a steep drop in living standards for the working class. In particular the unemployed, the disabled and long-term sick and the young have been treated with a cynical and callous cruelty that would be hard to match in any period in history. Benefit funding cuts have led to thousands of people having all benefits taken away on the flimsiest and most contrived of excuses and left to just go away and starve.

The Coalition has seriously damaged the NHS and we know that many of them are opposed to its existence in principle. Their bible is the Book of Mammon, which dictates that no one should get anything unless they pay for it and if working class people cannot afford health care they should accept that it is their lot to suffer and die young.

Likewise with housing, their bible says that people who cannot afford the exorbitant rents charged by private landlords — who do nothing to earn the money except corner the market on land and property — should not expect to be able to live under a roof. And when they are on the streets they must be treated as criminals and vagrants with no rights to sit or rest anywhere. Access to redress through the courts is now limited to those who can pay.

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