As the crisis facing the NHS deepens, even apparently affluent and seemingly middle class areas such as Canterbury are now confronted with the dangerous reality of our public health service’s degradation. Kent and Canterbury hospital has been instructed by Health Education England to transfer 42 of 76 junior doctors to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the QEQM in Margate. The move has been justified by the lack of consultants to train the junior doctors, due to claims that they can’t ensure patient safety. Alongside the cutbacks to junior doctors are cuts to the emergency department, which will mean that stroke and heart attack sufferers will be transferred to Margate or Ashford hospital via ambulance.
These cuts are symptomatic of a larger issue facing our health service – the looming threat of privatisation. By deliberately underfunding the NHS so that it fails to provide emergency treatment and adequate training for junior doctors, the Conservative government will push through privatisation, claiming that the public sector is unable to meet the demands on the health service by our ageing and growing population. Of course this is nonsense. The money is there, it’s just in the wrong hands – in the bank accounts of tax dodgers and big business. But surveys by the NatCen Social Research’s British Social Attitudes (BSA) show that the Tory plan is working. Overall public satisfaction with the NHS fell by 5 percentage points to 60% in 2015, and overall dissatisfaction rose by 8 points to 23% in the same year. Clearly people are losing hope in the NHS, and they will continue to do so as long as the Conservative government continues to enact their systematic plundering of the public sector with the aim of privatisation. It’s up to all of us to fight for an alternative.
by Luke Houghton, Kent Marxists