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From: The Socialist issue 1073, 12 February 2020: NHS: Fight for full funding!

Search site for keywords: NHS - Government - Labour - Cuts - Wales - Welsh Government - South Wales - Welsh Assembly - Aneurin Bevan - Rhondda Cynon Taff - Rhondda

NHS: Fight for full funding!

Lobby against the closure of Royal Glamorgan A&E, photo Dave Reid

Lobby against the closure of Royal Glamorgan A&E, photo Dave Reid   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales

The working class of Rhondda Cynon Taff will be on the march on Saturday 15 February to stop the closure or partial closure of their A&E department in Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Hundreds have attended meetings and lobbies across the area.

Accident and emergency departments are in crisis across the UK. Understaffed and underfunded, they are putting patients' lives at risk. Doctors and nurses are being faced with terrible choices of who to treat first and who to leave on the trolley, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The Welsh Labour government's solution to this A&E crisis? Close the A&E department at Royal Glamorgan Hospital - forcing emergency patients to travel long distances to other hospitals which are already overwhelmed by the pressures they are under.

Labour first minister Mark Drakeford has criticised local MPs and Welsh assembly members who, responding to an upsurge of anger, have questioned this decision. He claims that it is clinicians in Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board, not politicians, who are closing the A&E.

But it is clear to everyone that it is the Welsh government that decided to close the Royal Glamorgan A&E in the 'South Wales Programme' proposed by Drakeford himself in 2014. He is carrying out the policies of the Tory government in Westminster in cutting NHS services, under the guise of "clinical safety".

The Welsh Labour government is carrying out the same cuts as the Tory government is making to NHS hospitals in England. Both claim that A&E wards should be closed and services centralised for "patient safety".

But the reality is that both governments are cutting spending on the NHS in real terms. The NHS in Wales spends £1 billion a year less than 2010 compared to the increasing needs of the population. The UK Tory government has cut the funding and the Welsh Labour government has meekly cut the services to meet the Tory budget.

Politicians from both parties admit that there is a shortage of 1,200 consultants across the UK. But they do nothing to resolve that shortage by investing in training new doctors. We need a cash injection into our NHS to train the new medical professionals that the NHS needs.

Instead of doing Boris Johnson's dirty work for him, Welsh Labour assembly members must fight to save our NHS and demand the £1 billion that has been robbed from the health service is returned. When Labour health minister Aneurin Bevan founded the NHS in 1948 he said that it "will last as long as there's folk with faith left to fight for it."

If Welsh Labour is not prepared to fight for the NHS then they must make way for those that will. A socialist challenge to the cuts is needed, including at the Welsh parliament elections next year, to tackle the NHS emergency.

We demand:

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Coronavirus crisis - 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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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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