The health secretary’s lies are part of a strategy to undermine and destroy the NHS, and we must all take a stand now
On Monday, Jeremy Hunt told the House of Commons that serious problems are seen in just one or two hospitals and that most were coping well this winter.
How well is that, Mr Hunt? Figures leaked to the BBC tell a different story:
On Sunday alone, over 2000 patients waited more than 4 hours after the decision to admit, with 29 people waiting more than 12 hours. 75% of hospitals reported ‘trolley waits’ of between 4 and 12 hours. And 4% had delays of over 12 hours.
As of Sunday 8th January, the total number of waits above 12 hours is already three times more than the whole of January last year.
Lying in the face of failure
Indeed, if we remember a decade ago NHS waiting lists hit 3 million and there was outrage at the worst delays in treatment in its history.
Yet today there are 4 million people on NHS waiting lists – presenting a significant proportion of the population with the agonising prospect of waiting in pain, since most do not have the means to ‘go private’ and private treatment itself can also be a risk.
Last week two patients died in Worcestershire Royal Hospital A&E after a long trolley wait – one having died following a cardiac arrest after waiting 35 hours. This leaves many wondering how such conditions could possibly be tolerated in such a rich, and economically ‘developed’ country as the UK.
But Jeremy Hunt has attempted to play down the extent of such problems and his flat denials of this unprecedented crisis in the NHS along with – even more stunningly – his attempts to lay A&E chaos at the feet of patients, are just the latest example of our government blatantly lying to the public and reapportioning blame to others in a bid to play down its out-and-out responsibility for current failings.
Set on destruction
The truth of the matter is that this is one of the worst winter health crises on record, certainly the worst in over a decade.
And the root cause can be traced directly to the Tories’ toxic austerity policies that have made failure in the health service unavoidable and will yet worsen it: hugely insufficient NHS funding, combined with hard budget cuts elsewhere to social care and a critical shortage of healthcare staff, as many leave the profession and fewer apply due to worsening pay and conditions. Twenty percent fewer would-be nurses, since it was announced their bursaries would be replaced with loans from this September onward.
All this so our NHS can be sold off, piece by piece, for private profit and gain; that the collective hand of ordinary people might be weakened as this huge institution is taken out of ‘public’ control, to the benefit of the business community the Tory Party embodies.
Here and now, things are only set to get worse: since August we have been told that the NHS will have to find £22bn in “efficiency savings” by 2020. And whilst that accounts for around one fifth of the NHS’ current annual budget – a huge amount to cut while services stand at breaking point – it is only one tenth of the cost of renewing the Trident nuclear weapons.
Let’s be clear then: the humanitarian crisis in the NHS is real, it is politically determined and it is a direct result of the destructiveness of this Tory government.
It can’t wait: 'Hunt Must Go'
So this Thursday (12 Jan) The People’s Assembly, Health Campaigns Together and the Junior Doctors’ Alliance have called an Emergency Protest where we will gather at the Department of Health in Whitehall, London at 6pm (with a similar protest taking place in Bristol) to demand the resignation of Jeremy Hunt and challenge the government to intervene immediately to end the crisis in our NHS.
We simply can’t wait for the opportunity to vote in a government that will prioritise the NHS. At this rate, there will be no NHS left to save.
An undeniable crisis of the healthcare system is happening now. The fightback is happening now. Stand up and be counted; join us this Thursday and again at the National Demonstration on March 4th. Spread the word.