By 17/01/2018

Cuts Cause NHS Crisis

The NHS is in a perfect storm this winter. Decades of cuts and sell-offs have brought it to breaking point while it faces pressure from all directions.

68 A&E consultants have written to Theresa May. The letter warns of the consequences of chronic underfunding amid a gathering flu epidemic, and the increased strain on already overstretched hospitals with too few staff and beds to cope.

NHS Providers, representing most NHS trusts in England, has demanded an NHS budget increase of £20 billion to avoid catastrophe.

So, what is the Tories’ strategy for dealing with the crisis? According to May, the 55,000 operations cancelled this winter were all part of the plan!

Jeremy Hunt is still clinging to his health secretary job – now including social care – to the dismay of patients and doctors alike. Even he has admitted that significantly more money is needed.

Hunt and May both insist, however, that the NHS is better prepared this winter than ever before. Given the images of ambulances queuing outside hospitals, and patients sleeping on the floors of crowded A&E departments, this simply doesn’t ring true.


But the current and all-too-visible crisis facing emergency services is just the tip of the iceberg. Staff shortages at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford mean delayed chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.

Inadequate funding to social care creates further pressure too. Shockingly, under the Tories, the number of elderly people rushed to hospital from care homes has risen 62% since 2010.

Chemists are meant to play a role in reducing pressure on NHS resources. But Lloyds Pharmacy has closed 190 branches, meaning hundreds of job losses and limited access for patients – blaming government cuts.

Absurdly, cuts to NHS services don’t even reduce costs in many cases. Quite the opposite.

For instance, lack of beds at the Royal Free and University College hospitals in London have resulted in millions spent on hotel accommodation for patients in specialist care.

At the Royal Free this expenditure has increased tenfold since 2010, rocketing to £400,000 in 2016.

‘Out-of-area placements’ in mental health too. The additional cost of all this mayhem in the 12 months to October was £83 million.

And the mental health crisis is escalating as demand for services rises while provision shrinks.

Consequently, the Metropolitan Police alone fielded a record 115,000 mental health-related calls in 2016. Calls they are unequipped to deal with, and at a time when they are facing cuts in numbers themselves.

Blame for this disastrous situation doesn’t lie solely with the Tories. Sell-offs accelerated under New Labour too. The result is a health service on the brink.

The NHS can survive, but not without halting the privatisation agenda, including US-style ‘Acmos’ – ‘accountable care management organisations’ which entrench outsourcing.

All cuts must be reversed, and so-called STPs – ‘sustainability and transformation plans’ which demand ‘savings’ – scrapped.

And the fat-cat profiteers like Richard Branson have to be shown the door. The health of ordinary people should not be a source of private wealth.

The Socialist Party fights for a fully publicly owned NHS from family doctors to pharmaceutical firms, fully funded, free at the point of use for all.

Leicester Socialist Party will be hosting a public meeting entitled “How we can save the NHS” on Saturday January 27, 2.30pm at Leicester Secular Hall.

Leicester Mercury Jan 26 2018

Posted in: NHS

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