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Comment The Death of the NHS

07 January 2023 / Joseph Healy

This sounds like a dramatic title, but in truth, it is not. What we are witnessing before our very eyes is the death of the NHS. The waves of COVID and flu washing through a debilitated health system starved of funds for more than a decade and with a workforce depleted and depressed means effectively the end of public health in England. The decision to allow COVID to let rip and the removal of all mitigations since June last year have led to this, along with years of underfunding. A system that was already finding it difficult to cope has been unable to deal with waves of COVID infections, which, along with flu, have been consistently happening since last winter. The periods between the waves have been shorter, and the breathing space given to exhausted NHS staff has been less and less.

During the summer and autumn months, there was a noticeable increase in COVID infections in hospitals. This was driven by the lunatic decision of hospital trusts, driven by the Department of Health, that hospital staff and patients not be required to wear masks—the result was that many patients and staff went down sick with the virus. Now, in the winter months, which many experts predicted would see a wave of infections, the health system is left trying to cope with the irresponsible decisions of the government on COVID. Added to this, the refusal to pay nurses a decent wage and the general exodus of health staff from the NHS, and the perfect storm resulting from this, is no surprise. Horror story after horror story arrives from the frontlines, including one hospital that has a junior doctor acting as “car triage” as his job is to visit patients waiting in the car park. It has always been the Tory plan to destroy the NHS, and now it is succeeding. COVID, together with the refusal to properly fund the NHS, has led to this, and we now may be about to witness the first collapse of a public health system in the developed world.

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