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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Health is not a commodity!

SECRET PLANS to withdraw hospital care from the over-70s in the case of a catastrophic pandemic have come out this week. According to revelations in the mainstream media elderly people would be denied treatment to prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed during a health crisis. Instead they would be placed on an “end of life pathway” reminiscent of the euphemisms used by the death doctors of the Third Reich to justify the “mercy killing” of those the Nazis deemed unfit to live.

The strategy, drawn up in 2017 and 2018, reportedly stipulated that in a “severe” flu pandemic, the health secretary could authorise medics to prioritise some patients over others with people in nursing homes offered “end of life pathways” instead of medical assistance. Under the plan, the triaging process would be based on patients’ “probability of survival” rather than clinical need.

The Government says the proposals related to “hypothetical scenarios” and claim they were never adopted as official policy. But Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams claims that Britain had come “perilously close” to an approach of this sort at the height of the pandemic last year.

The Johnson government was slow to take action from the very start clearly embracing the crackpot do-nothing “herd immunity” theory that was followed by the Trump administration in the USA and the Bolsonaro regime in Brazil with disastrous consequences for millions of people left defenceless against the coronavirus plague. Though the Government did eventually yield to scientific pressure to bring in the national lockdowns that curbed the plague before the vaccines were developed some 42,000 elderly people died from Covid in care homes -- largely spread by infected arrivals discharged from hospitals to free up beds,

Dominic Cummings maintains that it is “complete nonsense” to say that the government “put a shield around care homes”. According to Johnson’s embittered former guru “the opposite happened” as the NHS “sent people with Covid back to care homes”.

There’s going to be an independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s not going to start its proceedings until the spring of next year. We can’t wait that long.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, called for a people’s inquiry into Covid. It’s already begun with the Keep Our NHS Public campaign.

Chaired by the human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, the people’s inquiry has held nine sessions gathering evidence from expert witnesses, key workers, patients, and bereaved people. The People’s Covid Inquiry has recently published interim recommendations and it is expected to publish its final report and recommendations in the autumn.

In the meantime it has concluded that the delay in recognising the gravity of the situation was caused by a failure of leadership and the deaths of 150,000 people, most of whom died needlessly, have been the result of incompetence. Timings of lockdowns and failure to put in place travel restrictions and quarantine contributed significantly to accelerating the spread of Covid.

We want a health service that is free at the point of need. The service and the morale of its workers must be reinstated to the full, to guarantee the sick, young and elderly, receive the treatment and service needed, including dental, fully supported by our tax system and at no extra cost to the patients and their families. It is the workers who create the wealth by their toil and provide the funding in the form of taxes, not the bourgeoisie, who live off the backs of the workers. We will continue to fight to save our services.

A national health service, delivered free to all at the time of need, is an essential requirement if people are to play an active part in society. The capitalists view health as a commodity. We do not.