We must mobilise against the biggest threat to our healthcare service in history, writes Danielle Tiplady
The NHS collapsed in recent days, and the Red Cross considers it a 'humanitarian crisis'. How has this been allowed to happen in the 6th richest country in the world?
Well, for one it is not the fault of the incredible staff, the nurses, the healthcare assistants, the doctors, the cleaners, the occupational therapists, everyone who keeps our NHS functioning to protect patient care. It is, however, the fault of wicked austerity measures by this Tory government.
Year after year since 2010 our funding has been cut to the bone. They have lied about how much money they have put into the NHS. Tory MP Sarah Wollaston even challenged Jeremy Hunt, disputing the figures by millions of pounds. This underfunding has resulted in hospital and service closures, the downgrading of A&Es, and a loss of acute beds. Yet with the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP's = slash, trash and privatise) the Tories claim cutting yet more beds and services is the answer to our problems. People should be cared for 'at home'. Yet our community services have been savaged. GPs are under immense pressure, and district nurses are on their knees with their caseload of patients. It is simply illogical to suggest that people will be better cared for at home, with no extra services, and we will be better off with no beds. But that is the point really – the Tories have no intention of this being logical or better for any of us.
Theresa May called Jeremy Hunt an 'excellent health secretary'. Whilst I massively disagree with this, Theresa May really does mean it: he has achieved what the Tories want. Being a front man for their policies he has successfully destroyed our services to a skeleton, broken down, demoralised and undervalued the staff, imposed an unnecessary contract on junior doctors, cut student bursaries (which has seen application numbers massively decline), pushed many members of staff to leave, and risked patient care,. This manufactured crisis will now be used to implement a 2-tier health system, in which people either have medical insurance or have to use a sink.
To say I am worried about my patients and colleagues is an understatement. Patients have been left on trolleys, waiting for hours to be seen. This is not the worst of it: sadly patients have actually passed away whilst they wait on trolleys. Staff are reported to be at breaking point, in tears, unable to take breaks, unable to do their job. This is a national scandal, the Tories must be held to account.
And where is Jeremy Hunt? Where is our 'leader' at this crucial time? Hidden away, leaving us to deal with unprecedented demand due to his crippling policies. What I will say is this. I have seen reports of patients feeling a 'burden' or 'guilty' to go to their local hospital because of the pressures. This is scary, as you absolutely must attend hospital if you feel unwell. Patient welfare is our priority, and this is your NHS, after all.
There is a huge amount at stake here, and collectively we must mobilise against what is the biggest threat to our healthcare service in history. Please join the Peoples Assembly and Health Campaigns Together on March 4th in London for the National Demonstration 'It's #OurNHS', which assembles at Tavistock Square. We will be calling for an end to cuts and closures; for a properly and publicly funded NHS; for an end to the pay restraint and end to privatisation. Coaches will be available nationally, make sure you are involved or otherwise, this year may well be the last for our health service.