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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 May 2020

Dispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS

NHS staff are on the front line, photo DFID/CC

NHS staff are on the front line, photo DFID/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Will Tories use lower hospital attendance to close wards?

As an NHS nurse I was asked by the Socialist to provide a note from the 'front line'.

Well, in my own area, the district general hospital is running half-full and other in-bedded community hospitals have no patients whatsoever. This is in line with government guidelines to prepare for a rise in in-bedded requirements in response to Covid-19.

NHS wards have been 'temporarily' closed and staff told this is only during the current crisis.

Large numbers of staff are being redeployed to other areas while the current situation exists; often highly inappropriately, in that staff are expected to work in areas where they have little or no experience.

Community workers are facing additional pressures, as patients have been discharged from hospitals to home or to care homes. Of course, the scandal is the enormous death rates for residents of care homes, who originally were not counted in the government's Covid-19 mortality rate.

Most care homes are private and pay mostly minimum wage rates to poorly trained staff. Their lack of PPE provision has been widely reported.

So, the real front line lies at the feet of social care workers at this moment. Deaths of social care workers have risen exponentially, with roughly twice as many deaths from coronavirus than other workers.

The figures for the death rates of non-Covid-19 persons was widely reported in the press, and this has risen sharply as people are fearful of going to hospital even when they have life-threatening symptoms.

What worries me is that, as well as privatisation projects being rushed through, previously busy areas will be closed going forward as it can be 'proved' there is 'no need for them'.

As the lockdown is lifted, and the population starts returning to hospitals, then all services will be put back under tremendous strain. It would stain the government and health officials' copy book if they then had to explain why they have closed wards. Therefore, it's much easier to have the staff on hand to restaff these closed wards if the demand is there.

In the meantime, staff are facing a very insecure work life on top of the fears that they have around their, and their families', safety.

The 'for profit' system in health and social care has proven entirely incapable of protecting patients and staff from this terrible virus, and government strategy has basically sacrificed our elderly population, and failed to protect our often lowest-paid workers.

We must question our whole way of looking after our elderly. We must demand that the private social sector should be nationalised, fully funded, and managed by workers.

An NHS nurse

Management still attacking workers' pay and conditions

The Covid-19 crisis has not stopped management from attacking the rights of health workers.

Those vulnerable workers who are shielding have been told that one of their 12 weeks must be taken as annual leave. Furthermore, because it's not termed 'sick leave', they would not receive their usual enhanced pay for working unsocial hours, which means significant pay cuts for many.

In the Unison union we are fighting this, but it's one indication of the bitter struggle that is likely to dominate the NHS in the near future.

An NHS porter

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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.
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In The Socialist 11 May 2020:


What we think

Stay alert to bosses putting profit before safety

Tories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety

Furlough scheme extended - workers need 100% of wages


Schools

No going back to unsafe schools


Workplace news

Dispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS

Transport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

Leicester care workers face pay cut and worse conditions

West Midlands trade union activists discuss the battle for safety on the front line


Spanish flu 1918

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"


Lessons from history

A new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

'Victory in Europe' 75th anniversary: A resurgent workers' movement and the fight for socialism


Socialist planning

Pandemic shortages caused by capitalist market - socialist planning is the alternative


Campaigns

Safe social-distancing car-cavalcade protests

Starmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis


Readers' opinion

Johnson's plan terrifies me - readers react to lifting lockdown

Going Viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis


 

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