NHS: cuts ration care

2nd August 2013

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The medical director of NHS England, Bruce Keogh, has said the NHS should be run by Dixons or PC World with a "more for less" mentality - he must mean more profits, less healthcare, poor service and closures (all Dixons shops closed in 2006!).

But already, a study has shown that the lack of adequate staffing means that nurses 'ration' the care they give to patients because of pressures on their time. Areas most likely to be cut back on are talking to patients, adequate monitoring, recording details of care, and pain management. Unsurprisingly, the problem was shown to be worst in the hospitals with fewer staff per patients.

This blows out of the water the idea that poor care is because of uncaring nurses. Many simply do not have the time and resources to do the job they are trained for because of understaffing and cuts.

The evidence for this BMJ Quality and Safety medical journal study was gathered in 2010 - before most of the 7,000-plus nursing jobs cuts made so far under the Con-Dems! And more redundancies are on the way - 140 hospital foundation trusts plan to slash 30,000 jobs by 2016.

The government and media talk about a £30 billion NHS funding gap by 2020. But this 'shortfall' could be more than met if the government scrapped all PFI (Private Finance Initiative - 'Profit from Illness'!) in the NHS.

Robbery

PFI is like taking out a high interest mortgage, but the lender owns the house at the end of the loan! And while everything else in the NHS gets slashed, the PFI payments stay. The total cost of all PFI (including non-NHS) has been measured at over £300 billion!

PFI was a favourite scheme of New Labour, but despite criticising PFI in opposition, the Tories' only new hospital - Alder Hey in Liverpool - has been built under the costly system.

Of course, two more easy ways of 'plugging the gap' would be to kick big business out of the NHS and make the rich and corporations pay tax!

Another money saver would be to take the drugs companies under democratic working class control and management. This would stop the pushing up of drug prices by up to 2,000%, as reported in the last issue of the Socialist.

North West TUC is organising a demo outside the Tory party conference in September.

But we can't just stop at demonstrating - the health unions, especially Unison, should be organising national strike action to stop the break-up and privatisation of the NHS.

This would be best done as a part of a 24-hour general strike by all unions in opposition to austerity.

But we also need political representation- the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour all agree that the NHS should be cut, broken up and privatised. That is why the Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which stands in elections against all cuts and privatisation.

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Bob Severn
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