NHS in Crisis: Fix It Now!

Emergency Demonstration

Saturday 3 February
Assemble: 12noon, Gower Street, London WC1E (near UCLH)

Called by Health Campaigns Together & The People’s Assembly

On January 4 Prime Minister Theresa May joined Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in issuing a hollow apology for the state of the NHS after almost eight brutal years of frozen funding by their government has reduced spending on health and the numbers of hospital beds to the lowest of any equivalent country – bringing front line health services in many areas to “third world” conditions.

There’s no point in apologising when the problem comes from deliberate government policy, which has not been changed since George Osborne imposed the funding freeze in 2010 – despite repeated warnings from NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation, the health unions and almost every NHS professional body.

Eight years of frozen real terms funding while cost pressures have increased and the population has grown by 4 million mean our NHS has been starved of funding with inadequate investment in staff and resources.

Years of cash squeeze have brought the loss of 8,000 front line beds and 20% of mental health beds, leaving no spare capacity for peaks of demand – while 8 years of below inflation pay settlements has left 100,000 vacant posts for nurses, health professionals and doctors in all parts of the NHS, increasing the pressure on the dedicated staff who remain.

This is why on December 31 more than half the acute hospitals had at least 95% of their beds full, and 8 out of 10 hospitals emergency services were over 90% full, with emergency admissions crowding out elective surgery until at least the end of January. It’s why ambulances queue for hours seeking to hand over seriously ill patients, why corridors and other spaces are now routinely used as desperate, dangerous last resort areas for patients to wait for beds, and it’s why despite all the government’s warm words mental health patients are being taken hundreds of miles to find a bed.

Meanwhile cuts and privatisation have reduced social care to chaos, and billions are being wasted on costly and dysfunctional competitive “market” which forces NHS services to be put out to tender, and hands contracts to profit-hungry companies.

We don’t want apologies, we want changes:

* An end to the spending freeze and the cap on NHS pay: a cash injection to restore the NHS budget, and commitment to increased funding each year in line with other comparable economies.

* Abandonment of any plans for further cuts and closures of NHS hospitals and an end to privatisation of any NHS services, land or staff.

* A halt to the imposition of “new models of care” and “accountable care” pending full public and parliamentary scrutiny.

* Repeal the 2012 Health & Social Care Act and regulations and reinstate the NHS as a public service, publicly accountable, publicly owned and publicly funded through general taxation.

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