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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 January 2020
A&Es in meltdown
Build for strikes to save NHS
- Northern Ireland nurses show the way
NHS workers protest against privatisation of the blood service, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Jon Dale, secretary, Unite union Nottinghamshire Health Branch
It's an emergency! In November, none of England's 118 major accident and emergency departments met their targets - the first time ever. In December the situation got worse.
Most hospitals in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also failed to treat and admit, transfer or discharge 95% of patients within four hours. The sickest patients needing admission are most likely to wait for beds to become free while lying on trolleys in corridors or waiting areas.
This leads to queueing ambulances outside. Over 80,000 ambulance patients - one in six - waited at least 30 minutes before they could be handed to A&E staff during this winter's first five weeks. Ambulance response times after 999 calls are up as a result.
So far, winter has been mild. Icy conditions immediately send casualty numbers soaring as people fall, have road accidents or arrive in hypothermia.
The never-ending list of statistics describes an NHS buckling under the strain. Every figure represents people suffering.
Stress and sickness
Knowing this human cost puts massive strain on health workers. Decisions must be made fast. There's no time to comfort and reassure sick patients and their families when the queue stretches out the door.
Staff stagger home exhausted and it's hard to switch off. 'Was I right to do this? Should I have checked that?' No wonder sickness levels are up. 200,000 nurses have left the profession since 2011. Johnson claims he's going to persuade some to stay and others to return!
Nurses and ambulance staff in Northern Ireland are showing how to fight low pay and unsafe staffing levels. 20,000 were on strike on 8 January, including 9,500 Royal College of Nursing members - the RCN's first strike in 103 years.
Huge public support for their action helped drive politicians from sectarian and pro-big business parties to re-form a power-sharing government after three years' stalemate.
Unions should organise now to defend all health workers and the services they provide. An emergency conference calling an emergency national demonstration, building for national strike action, is needed. These should be the first steps to defeat Tory privatisation plans and reverse years of austerity.
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
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In The Socialist 15 January 2020:
What we think
Labour Party leadership contest: Fight for a mass anti-austerity, workers' party with a socialist programme
Labour leadership race: Reverse Unison's undemocratic nomination of Blairite Starmer
Low Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!
Build for strikes to save NHS
No free ride for the airline bosses - nationalise Flybe now!
Them & Us
Hackney school bus workers win pay increase following strikes
PCS: Time to rebuild the left
Northern Ireland: Thousands of nurses continue to strike for better pay
Westex Carpet strike reaches two month mark
London bus drivers ballot to strike
Union lawyer arrested on security guards' picket line
We need socialists in London's City Hall
Stop gentrification in Newham: "We are here, you have consulted us and we're not going anywhere!"
Massive Scottish independence demo marks new stage in struggle
Young people who voted for Corbyn's manifesto will now ask... How can we win those ideas?
London: Protesters return to oppose Middle East war
Cladding scandal: Government steps up defence of landlords
Nottingham: Youth protest against Barclays £64 million fossil-fuel investments
Socialist Party national committee meeting
International socialist news and analysis
Renewed protests shake Iranian leaders
France: Strike wave over pensions - Macron government in retreat
Sustainable food production and the need for socialism
TV Review: Apocalypse Cow
The Socialist Inbox
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