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.

And there have been swingeing cuts in levels of support for the elderly and chronically ill in the community, meaning a shocking level of neglect that has left people who, with a moderate level of support from district nurses and other health support, could be living comfortable lives in their own homes, but are now suffering deteriorating health and needing emergency care.

And once they have been treated in hospital they cannot be discharged, again because of a shortage of nurses and care workers in the community who could support them during convalescence.

Cutting these services is an absolute false economy leaving hospitals facing crisis after crisis and crippling their budgets.

But the Government it not doing this from stupidity; destroying the NHS is part of their agenda. To them healthcare is a marketable commodity and all who get it should pay for it.

Of course we already do pay for it in our taxes and through our National Insurance payments — but that cuts out big business and leaves no room for profit-making. So they want us to be forced to take out private healthcare insurance or buy our healthcare directly and those who cannot afford to must resign themselves to suffering.

Labour is at last coming out and attacking the Government for the current crisis in the NHS. But the Labour leadership is still failing to commit itself to restoring the cuts.

It has promised an extra £2.5 billion increase every year for the NHS to be funded from a mansion tax. But the filthy rich owners of homes worth in excess of £1.5 million have been so noisy in their outrage at this that the Labour leaders have started to dither.

Surely the millions of us who need the NHS can shout louder in Labour’s ears than a handful of millionaires! We must turn up the volume and let the unions be our megaphones. We must not let our Labour leaders sleep until they do commit to restore the cuts — and to end PFI deals.

Another practice we must end is leaving hospitals dependent on hiring very expensive agency nurses and other staff, turning agency owners into millionaires at the expense taxpayers and patients.

The NHS must employ enough nurses and other hospital staff to cope and pay them enough so they can feed their families and pay the rent doing just the one job and not have to moonlight with the agencies to make ends meet. They should end up with enough time and money to have some rest and recreation. It will make them better nurses.

Many of our readers we know will have already been campaigning to the point of exhaustion to try to save the NHS. But in this election year it is more important than ever that we keep up the pressure and involve friends and neighbours but especially our unions.

Saving the NHS is one issue that can and will win absolute mass support and that this can reverse bad decisions. We can win this one.