Trade unions have warned the government and the public that the NHS is in danger of being “swamped” by COVID-19, with cases spiralling to never-before-seen numbers.
Repeated reports are highlighting that NHS staff are facing exhaustion and distress, due to being overworked and wrought with stress.
87,000 vacancies now exist in the health service, including 40,000 nurses. Unison has called for the government to “find ways of maintaining staff levels at swamped hospitals without burning out already overwhelmed NHS workers”.
This is, of course, a direct consequence of the chronic underfunding of the health service over the last decade. Tory austerity has compounded with the incompetent Tory COVID-response to create this utter disaster in the health service.
Unite national officer for the health sector Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe summed it up well, stating that “years of underfunding and chronic staff shortages have left the NHS badly ill-equipped to cope with what is now a rampant second strain of the virus.”
All of this follows the news that the weekly COVID-19 case rates in England saw a 32% increase in just one week, with 403 people out of 100,000 having the virus, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Tories have created this situation, aided by the non-opposition of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, and they should never be allowed to forget it. We can expect this, however, from a government which despises the working people of this country, and from a Prime Minister who is a liar and a political opportunist.
And it did not to be this way, as the COVID responses of countries such as Vietnam, New Zealand and Cuba show.
As socialists, we must expose the Conservatives for what they are, and for the loss of life their disastrous rule has caused. We must also extend our love and solidarity with all NHS workers, who are heroically tirelessly working around the clock to save lives.