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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 December 2021

Covid news in brief

Javid tells gps to drop health checks for elderly

Facing up to the potential effects of the new Omicron Covid variant, and anxious to avoid introducing further lockdown measures, the government has declared its mission to deliver a booster vaccine.

Unlike privatised test and trace, initial UK vaccination benefited from a coordinated, public, National Health Service. But that same service is starved of funds and overwhelmed by a backlog - six million on waiting lists by the new year, according to the health secretary.

Far from offering a remedy, the government has given GP practices permission to postpone minor surgery and routine health checks for over-75s to enable GPs to deliver the booster. Many more health conditions will no doubt go undiagnosed and untreated.

The move has been welcomed by some GP leaders, enabling them to avoid some 'bureaucratic demands' and 'unnecessary paperwork'.

But fundamentally the problem is one of staff and resources. Decades of cutbacks, underinvestment and privatisation from Tory and Labour governments have left the NHS unable to cope - and lacking staff willing to work under high pressure for low pay. That's why the Socialist Party backs the NHS workers' call for a 15% pay rise, and campaigns for a fully funded, public NHS.

Largely as a consequence of public services being unable to cope, emergency measures have needed to be taken at different points throughout the Covid pandemic. Those decisions cannot be left in the hands of Johnson and his government, which has proven it always puts the interests of big business first. Instead, it should be the working class and trade unions that decide democratically what measures need to be taken in the interests of the majority.

Government cuts left NHS 'woefully underprepared'

"This report makes clear that the NHS went into this pandemic woefully underprepared and underresourced, and the only reason the health service was able to provide care and services at the level it did was because of the unwavering dedication of frontline workers who gave their all - including their lives...

"Brutal cuts to public health services in their hundreds of millions over the last decade left the UK without adequate testing capacity resulting in the outsourcing of test-and-trace operations. This wasted £37 billion of taxpayers' money on an ineffective system that failed to identify the spread of the virus."

These are the words of British Medical Association (BMA) council chair Chaand Nagpaul in response to the publication of the People's Covid Inquiry.

What's needed is a struggle for resources, led by the trade unions including health unions like the BMA, to demand the funding needed for decent health care. That includes funding a 15% pay rise for NHS and care staff, and bringing privatised services back in-house.

The cost of vaccination

Photo: Frolicsomepl/CC

Photo: Frolicsomepl/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The cost of an undervaccinated world is new variants and millions of preventable deaths, particularly in the world's poorest nations. Just 9.2% of Afghanistan's population is fully vaccinated, 11.7% in Iraq. According to the Gates Foundation, $25 billion is what it would take to vaccinate the entire planet.

A lot of money, but dwarfed by the $89 billion in profits made by the top ten pharmaceutical companies in 2019. It is also put into perspective by the $20.2 billion annual air-conditioning bill for the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq!

Left in the hands of the billionaires, the world's wealth will continue to be hoarded by a tiny few, or be squandered on murderous wars. We say nationalise the pharmaceuticals, big business and the banks under democratic workers' control and use the wealth to look after our health!

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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 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.
  • 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 8 December 2021:


Unite to fight for pay and NHS we deserve

Government social care plans: Where is the money?

Uni staff and students must unite to end marketisation and for free education

Covid news in brief

What we think

Workers' politics needed to exploit Tory scandal and splits

People's Budgets

Building People's Budgets: An alternative to Tory and Labour cuts

International news

Chile presidential election - stop the far-right candidate

Unprecedented floods in British Columbia

Wider working-class and union struggle needed to win St Vincent nurses' strike

Defending abortion rights in the US

Workplace news

Universities strike - build the action and stand united to win

Thousands of Tesco warehouse workers to strike

Sandwell bin workers beat Serco and win pay rise

Panasonic workers break company pay freeze

Clarks strikers defeat 'fire and rehire'

Organise to win the NEU's 8% pay demand

Yorkshire Stagecoach bus workers' week-long strike

Worksop Wincanton logistics workers on strike

Newham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

Sheffield Just East couriers picket and march for pay rise

Napo ballots for trade dispute

Campaigns news

Affordable housing for all

Challenge cutters and evictors in Waltham Forest Council

Remembering Tony Davison

Fighting Fund: Help us reach over 50,000

Defying unjust laws - a rich history of struggle

Mail attacks tube strikers by stealing socialist's image


Film review: The Harder They Fall


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