The UK will, for the second time, applaud the NHS and its workers (at 8PM today). Their vital work is keeping the nation going, and is saving many lives that otherwise might be lost to this global pandemic.
A lot of people who voted for the Conservatives in the General Election 4 months ago will be amongst those who will be applauding ,however, if they vote Conservative again in any future election, many people ask what’s the point of applauding the NHS if you’re going to vote for the Party that underfunded it deliberately for the past decade?
Just in October 2019, 2 months before the December 2019 General Election, Polly Tonybee of the Guardian Newspaper summarised perfectly in her article “These brutal cuts to the NHS will haunt the Conservatives” a number of shocking failings the Tories inflicted on the NHS:
- 93% of NHS Trusts reported that they were falling short of staff, with a record of 43,000 missing roles – half of these NHS Trusts had 10% less nurses they needed; that’s three times more than five years ago. Nurses are being substituted with untrained assistants.
- NHS expenditure on private health providers DOUBLED since 2010 to £9 Billion.
- The 2012 Health and Social Care Act still allowed private companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin care to sue the NHS.
- In 2017, the abolition of bursaries for trainee nurses was implemented, which cut the number of subsequent applicants. That made training unaffordable for women with children, who are often healthcare assistants wanting to upgrade. The attrition of nurses leaving the profession has worsened, with one in five quitting as soon as they train, and 5,000 going back to other EU countries as a result of the Brexit vote.
Hadley Stewart, Medical Journalist at Euronews, reported on the day of the December election, summarised the crisis the NHS faced:
“The Conservatives have been in power since 2010. Under their leadership, the health service has suffered a number of significant budget cuts, in areas such as cancer care, sexual health services and social care in the community.
We all need to keep the photo of an unwell child lying on a hospital floor in our minds. I think this picture has come to symbolise the vulnerable, unwell people who are not getting the care they deserve under the Conservative government.”
– Hadley Stewart
There are many other failures, such as the constant underfunding, or the back-to-back winter crisis the NHS faced, the failure of those (such as our current Prime Minister) who kept repeating Brexit would mean £350 Million a week for the NHS – the list really goes on and on.
The failures continue during this pandemic. Despite the Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying today that testing ‘will unlock the coronavirus puzzle‘ and set a target of 25,000 tests a day by the end of March but even Hugh Pym at the BBC it’s barley at 10,000 a day, and only 2,000 front-line staff have been tested out of about 550,000, a shockingly low proportion.
The UK media, despite overwhelmingly supporting the Tories, has recently slammed the Tories, criticising them for wasting time reacting to this pandemic, along with not having enough tests. Matt Hancock, the UK Health Secretary, has set a target of 100,000-a-day by the end of April – we hope they deliver.
People must ask themselves – if this pandemic wasn’t unfolding, would the Tories attitude towards our health service have changed? Had Corbyn won in 2017 (2019 might not have given him enough time), would the NHS have been better positioned to respond to this pandemic? If the answers aren’t blatantly obvious, if this entire experience still has people voting for the Conservatives in droves, especially the elderly who are the most vulnerable to this pandemic, may God have mercy upon our souls.
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