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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2020

Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIAID/CC

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIAID/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.

Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words, to [email protected]

Chronic cuts and coronavirus - an overwhelmed NHS leaves patients in pain and anxiety

A few weeks ago, I was referred by my GP for an ultrasound scan which found a large cyst on my left ovary, probably caused by endometriosis. I was told by a consultant that it's so large that it absolutely has to be removed by surgery, and possibly my left ovary too.

Under what were then relatively normal conditions, it was a minimum two-month wait for a simple, short operation which might not even need an overnight stay. Even at that point, they said it could be up to six months' wait depending on how Covid-19 develops.

I got a letter from the hospital on 25 March which told me that my pre-op appointment with the surgeon has been rescheduled to January 2021! I called the next day and the hospital confirmed it currently looks like my operation will take place next year.

That's 12 months for the cyst on my left ovary to keep growing, making it more likely the ovary will need to be removed. They weren't even sure if the ultrasound scans I was due to have - to keep an eye on any growth - would be going ahead!

As if that wasn't bad enough, I have a smaller cyst on my right ovary too. I have no idea how long it will take for that one to grow so large that it overwhelms the other ovary. Six months? 12 months? If my operation is delayed until next year, will I have either ovary left?

This is the reality of NHS cuts and privatisation over past decades, both from the Tory and New Labour governments.

On 26 March Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak applauded NHS workers. But they have created a nightmare situation for them, and still refuse to provide them with adequate PPE and tests.

Cancer patients are having chemotherapy stopped so hospitals can free up capacity to fight Covid-19. I'm 25 and I'm really scared I could be left infertile. Unless my hospital changes the plan - and I have every intention of harassing them till they do!

Covid-19 is an enormous crisis, and obviously many 'non-urgent' procedures would have been delayed even with a fully funded and operational NHS. But the situation facing me and many others - important but often quick, simple procedures being put off endlessly - is purely down to brutal austerity which has gutted public services.

I can't fault the care I was given by my GP and the hospital - but they have been put in an impossible situation, and this is what it comes down to.

The Tories and the Blairites have to face a reckoning for what they've done.

Mary Finch, East London Socialist Party

Burying bad news

Enfield council held a planning committee meeting on 24 March, two days after the government's belated lockdown of the country.

The justification for the council meeting was that only essential business was going to be discussed. However, this was not the case, as the non-essential but controversial Meridian Water housing development was also on the agenda.

The public was not allowed to attend because of health and safety. It begs the question, why was it safe for the councillors to attend? The whole thing suggests that the council deliberately chose to proceed in order to vote through controversial decisions while avoiding public scrutiny.

As expected, a green light was given to the council's plans for the second phase, which will see 2,300 homes built. Only 40% of them will be 'affordable', and none at social rent levels - which makes them all unaffordable for local residents in need of housing.

One councillor, a Tory, voted against the plans, stating (in the local press) his opposition to the lack of affordable homes. His stance is no doubt opportunistic, but the fact that a Tory is able to criticise a Labour council for not even adhering to its own policy (which is for 50% 'affordable' homes) is in itself shameful.

The Meridian for Council Homes grassroots campaign - for 100% council homes at the lowest social rent - also slammed the council for cynically using the lockdown to forward its pro-developers agenda.

North London Socialist Party member

Cuts comparison

Interviewed on German TV news channel ARD, a medical expert confirmed that in Germany they are planning to have 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in the next few weeks.

Their health system has been supplied with an additional 10,000 ventilators since the start of the year, suggesting that a decision was made to increase capacity as soon as the outbreak in Wuhan became known.

Despite the fact that the German health system has, like our NHS, also been subject to cuts and privatisation, it proves that when you have more staff, equipment and overall capacity, you can deal with such a crisis much better and save lives.

Here, the Tories can't be allowed to gloss over the fact that they have starved our NHS of resources and have left it considerably weakened to cope.

Domenico Hill, Bristol

Lack of care

My friend works as a carer in the community, and like many others gives much but gets very little from their private agencies. They have to cram all their care into a ludicrously small amount of time but always do their level best, because they love their job.

My friend showed me a string of emails from her employer regarding coronavirus. Employees were advised to 'do the basics and get out'.

When a carer inquired if their pay would remain the same they were abruptly told 'you will be paid by the amount of time you are in there, as you are currently' In other words, expect a pay cut!

It's scandalous enough that these dedicated carers do not get paid for the actual hours they are at work, but to penalise them in this way in these times is awful.

The services that look after our vulnerable people must be fully funded, publicly owned and made accountable through democratic control. These workers need to be paid well and for the full duration of their shifts.

I can only guess that this care agency will be collecting the same amount of money for these caring contracts, thus profiteering from the C-19 virus!

NHS nurse , Nottinghamshire

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Finance appeal

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.
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In The Socialist 31 March 2020:

Coronavirus news

NHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared

Schools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus

Councils must use resources now for emergency response

NHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality

Self-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

Fully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children

Scandalous conditions in food distribution centre

Coronavirus news in brief

World War Two

All in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth

What we think

PPE, tests, full pay - for all now

Labour must resist 'Covid coalition': Workers need their own voice and party

Emergency legislation: Trade unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests

Food supply and the coronavirus crisis

Capitalism means empty shelves, food insecurity, and soaring profits - the case for a socialist alternative

Workplace news

Key workers should make bold demands

Essential workers deserve more

Working in Mike Ashley's empire: After lockdown we won't forget how we've been treated

Hull construction workers force bosses to shut down site over health and safety fears

Bosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland

Bus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay

Postal workers walk out over health, safety and junk mail

Working from home during the pandemic

Leicester: Nylacast worker exposes truth

Refuse collection workers strike


Fight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

More than ever, we need accountable union leaders


Help us continue to fight for workers and socialism

Building the Socialist Party

Readers' opinion

Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis


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