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Tories' NHS cash insult - mass action can save our NHS
Jackie Grunsell, GP and Lancashire Socialist Party member
£20.5 billion extra funding isn't enough to make improvements to NHS services, is the conclusion of Simon Stevens, head of NHS England. A row has broken out between him and the government.
The Tories want him to promise significant improvements to waiting times, cancer care, mental health services, ill-health prevention measures - and expect him to deliver a 'seven-day NHS'.
All this for what will amount to a miserly 3.4% increase in funding annually over the next five years.
Theresa May bestowed this '70th birthday present' on the NHS only as a result of growing public anger.
Campaigns have grown against the running down of health services, chronic underfunding, staff shortages and closures.
This latest attempt to appease the public won't wash. Even with this 'increase' - a real-terms freeze compared to some inflation measures, and following years of cuts - the UK will spend less on healthcare than leading EU countries.
There are over 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS, according to health service watchdog NHS Improvement. Yet there is no extra money for training and education.
Bosses have cut 6,000 NHS beds since 2014-15, the doctors' union BMA has found. Hospitals are now overwhelmed by demand all year round - not just over winter.
Today the UK has one of the lowest numbers of beds per patient in the OECD, representing most major capitalist economies.
And the 'extra' money contains no increase for social care or public health, areas where cuts have devastated services and put vulnerable patients more at risk.
Even according to Simon Stevens' own conservative estimates, at least £80 billion - four times what's on offer - would be needed just to make the changes the Tories demand.
Yet despite the underfunding, year on year a greater proportion of NHS funding is going to private providers of care.
They take the money while cherry-picking the less costly to treat, the less complex patients - further increasing pressure on NHS services.
There has to be a huge investment in the NHS - but no more money should be diverted into the hands of private profiteers.
Health workers and the public need direct involvement in democratically deciding how a massive increase in NHS money should be spent, to genuinely improve the service to meet the needs of all.
The Socialist Party says
- Avert the winter crisis! For an emergency injection of resources to help overstretched services cope
- Stop starving our NHS!
- Reverse all cuts and privatisation to guarantee the needed funds
- General election now! Kick out the Tories, for a Corbyn-led government with socialist policies
- Unions: take the lead! Build for workers' action against the winter crisis, cuts and closures, and call an immediate national demonstration for a general election
18 Sep Building a new left in PCS
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