With the NHS facing the biggest financial squeeze in its history — and as a result staff vacancies reaching 100,000 — we are all facing the consequences of the Tories’ failure when it comes to the NHS, making a major demonstration this Saturday for #OurNHS all the more important.
Theresa May recently boasted that the NHS was the best prepared it’s ever been – but as the winter crisis continues, staff and users alike know that this is yet another shocking example of Tory neglect and complacency. As with so many other issues, from police cuts to their failed welfare “reforms,” the Tories are refusing to accept that cuts have consequences.
Recent NHS England stats revealed the true and shocking scale of the NHS winter crisis, which has its route in persistent Tory cuts and privatisation.
These Tory cuts have left our beloved health service more vulnerable than ever before and the figures are astonishing. Hospitals are at full capacity, ambulances backed up, cancelled operations have left thousands in pain and anguish, and we have again seen patients waiting for hours on trolleys.
Specifically, over 75,000 patients have been left languishing in the back of ambulances this winter, sometimes waiting well in excess of 12 hours in packed hospital corridors.
Research from Labour has also recently revealed that half of children’s intensive care units were dangerously full, showing that in the period between December 18 and 24 over one-third of England’s children’s care units were 100 per cent full without a single spare bed.
It was also recently revealed that the number of people spending the Christmas period stuck in hospital due to “delayed transfer of care” nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016.
To put this figure in context, experts argue that to run a children’s care unit above 85 per cent occupancy places patient safety at significant risk.
After what the Red Cross called a “humanitarian crisis” in the NHS last winter, the extent of this winter’s crisis has not come as a surprise to many who work in healthcare, and trade unions representing health workers will be amongst those at the forefront of this Saturday’s NHS in Crisis: Fix it Now protest (see details here.)
Despite some Tory spin, the reality is that the NHS is now approaching the eighth year of desperate underfunding caused by the cuts from the Con-Dem and then the Tory governments.
The results of Tory austerity in the NHS have been very real. There have been thousands of beds cut from the NHS since 2010 and the numbers of days lost to delayed discharge are up by 50 per cent since 2010.
The latter problem of delayed transfers of care is directly attributable to the cuts imposed by the Tories, including in terms of social care where there is an ever-deepening crisis accompanying the one in the NHS.
The cuts to local authorities since 2010 will have seen reductions in social care budgets of £6.3 billion by March 2018, alongside a 26 per cent drop (some 400,000 people) in the numbers of older people receiving publicly funded care.
In total, one in 10 people over 50 not having their care needs met.
In contrast to the Tories, Labour has pledged to give the NHS the funding it requires and to join up services in a holistic approach with a properly integrated health and social care service.
Despite what some Tories say a proper funding of healthcare is possible — Germany, for example, spends £23bn more than Britain on its health service every year.
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston rightly recently said that the government needs to get a grip of the NHS crisis. To do this they will need to properly fund the public services — if not, they should make way for a Labour government that will secure the future of our NHS.
The NHS IN CRISIS – FIX IT NOW March and demonstration is called by the People’s Assembly against Austerity and the NHS Together Campaigns and takes place on Saturday 3 February, assembling at 12pm, Gower Street, London WC1. Full details can be seen at http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/nhs_fix_it
First published on writeyou.co.uk