SENIOR Doctor Rachel Clarke has laid bare the truth about the NHS in a series of tweets. Basing her analysis on data from the highly respected Nuffield Trust, Dr Clarke shows how, on a range of measures, the Conservative Government in England is presiding over a “deliberate, engineered, intentional destruction of a once great NHS“.

Anybody who has had to go to an Accident and Emergency Department in recent times will know that waiting times are long. This chart shows how those waiting times (set against a target of no more than four hours) have increased since 2011.

Essentially, the dotted line represents the four hour target. The blue line is admitted patients. In May 2011 the wait was three hours 33 minutes, by March 2022 it was six hours 23 minutes, almost a doubling in waiting times. It is worth noting that being admitted into hospital generally means you have a serious condition and that extra wait could, literally, be life and death.

This chart gives similar information but shows quite clearly that the NHS is under an immense strain. In November 2010 less than 2% of patients would have had to wait more than four hours to be admitted, by August 2022 that figure had risen to 27%. These figures need to be read in conjunction with the knowledge that since 2007 the NHS has been committed to reducing waiting times, yet under the Tories the precise opposite is happening.

It is difficult to work out exactly what is happening in the NHS with facts and counter-facts being thrown around like confetti at a wedding. But we will all no doubt remember the £350 million per week promised by Boris Johnson, amongst others, to the NHS as a result of leaving the EU. It is hard to square that claim with the fact that the NHS is clearly facing a severe crisis in which nurses and ambulance staff, the absolute epitome of dedicated vocational staff, are forced to go on strike as a result of the terrible working conditions they now have.

Figures released yesterday show that the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 5.5% smaller than it would otherwise have been. John Springford, of the Centre for European Reform, said, “If Brexit had not happened, most of the tax rises that then chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in March 2022 would not have been necessary.

As Ministers line up to condemn NHS workers, as they threaten to bring in troops and as the right-wing media trot out the old lines about strikers holding the country to ransom, we would do well to remember that much of the mess the UK is in is, technically, self-inflicted. Those who were led to believe that the UK could weather the storms of a capitalist global crisis by ‘going it alone’ have not only failed to avoid the storm, they have managed to turn it into a tornado from which there appears to be no escape.

Socialists have long said that the NHS was under threat from Tory governments, Labour governments and the greed of the business sector slavering over the possibility of asset stripping one of the country’s greatest achievements. Only a socialist answer can be found to the questions now raised. That means we have to stop trusting ministers of every political hue, stop waiting for a leader to show us what to do and start organising at the grassroots level. The striking nurses, ambulance workers, railway workers, postal workers and others have shown the way. Now it is up to all of us to get fully behind them and take back what is rightfully ours.

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