The Socialist 24 January 2018 |
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Welsh NHS crisis - we cannot go on like this
photo EMAS NHS Trust (CC) (Click to enlarge)
Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
We cannot go on like this. That is the substance of a letter from A&E consultants to the Welsh government to draw attention to the huge crisis in Welsh hospitals this winter.
"We have neither sufficient staff nor sufficient beds (in either acute hospitals or the community) to cope with the needs of an ageing population.
"We're on our knees as far as emergency care [is concerned]. There's good evidence that if patients are seen in emergency departments which are crowded, that are full, their treatment is delayed.
"That can actually cause an increase in the length of stay, it can make their illness more severe and in some cases it can cause death, so for safety and patient care we're very, very worried."
While the NHS in England is run by the Tories, the NHS in Wales is run by Welsh Labour. The two things that the health service in both countries have in common is that there are huge crises in hospital provision this winter and they are both chronically under-resourced.
The Welsh government's response to critics is essentially the same as the Tory Westminster government's response - they laughably claim they prepared for the extra demands imposed by the winter health crisis and they have apologised to patients for cancelled operations.
The Welsh ministers should also apologise to NHS staff who have worked way beyond their contracted hours to try and keep up with the increase in demands on the NHS and have been rewarded with years of real pay cuts and cuts in pensions.
The Tory UK government is mainly responsible for the underfunding of the Welsh NHS but Welsh Labour bears some responsibility too. They have implemented the Tory spending cuts with scarcely a whimper of protest, cutting the Welsh NHS spending even deeper than the Tories in England until 2014.
A socialist government would not meekly accept the cuts. It would set a budget that matched the health needs of working class people in Wales and fight the Tories in Westminster with every weapon at its disposal to fund it.
Instead the Welsh Labour government has concurred with the cuts and reorganised the Welsh NHS to match the limits demanded by a capitalist elite who insist that public services must be curtailed to pay for the economic crisis.
Welsh Labour's approach is closer to Tony Blair's than Jeremy Corbyn's. They have defied mass protests and demonstrations.
The South Wales Programme is reducing A&E provision down to just five for the whole population of South Wales. Many emergency patients in mid-Wales have to travel long distances to English hospitals because there are no A&E departments in the region. In North Wales there are just three A&E departments.
Socialist Party Wales demands:
- End the NHS crisis - reverse the cuts
- Re-open closed A&E departments
- Increase the number of ambulances and paramedics to provide an adequate ambulance service
- Implement an emergency medical student training programme to train new doctors and nurses
- Provide free medical education for medical students who stay to work in Wales
- Return the student nurse bursary scheme
- End the 1% pay cap! National coordinated industrial action to win 5%
- Fight for sufficient funding to provide decent healthcare and prepare for an ageing population
- The Welsh government sets a needs budget and campaign to force this weak Tory government to increase funding
- Support the 3 February demo for the NHS in London called by Health Campaigns Together
- Read more at socialistpartywales.org.uk