Western Morning News

Austerity measures have ruined our NHS


WHEN assessing the Conservati­ves’ response to the coronaviru­s pandemic, one has to take into account that our NHS and social services were not in the greatest shape to cope with an emergency to begin with.

Over the 10 years the Tories have been in power they have closed scores of medical facilities, got rid of over 17,000 beds, scrapped nurses’ bursaries, left the service short of more than 100,000 clinical personnel, sold billions worth of services and facilities to the private sector, created a hostile environmen­t for vital foreign staff, forced NHS wages to fall ever further behind, repeatedly ignored warnings that we were unprepared for emergencie­s such as a pandemic, and outsourced virtually all social care work to private companies – with dire results.

All in the name of austerity measures whose prime purpose was to shrink the state and place all care in the corporate sector.

In the light of those facts, the nation’s resilience was bound to be tested when the pandemic arrived.

Since January, however, the government’s response has been a story of continuing incompeten­ce and sometimes callousnes­s.

World Health Organisati­on guidelines were ignored, the cabinet instead taking disastrous advice from poorly qualified “health experts” who advocated “taking it on the chin” and building herd immunity without a vaccine.

Vital weeks were lost. In the early days of the pandemic the UK was actually exporting vital PPE to other countries, including China.

Astonishin­gly, flights are still landing in the UK from a variety of nations with Covid-19 problems, without any health checks being carried out on any passengers.

Numerous reports have emerged of ignored offers of equipment from small companies that have no ties with government ministers.

And now we learn, astonishin­gly, that Boris Johnson failed to attend the first five Cobra meetings!

We have a leader who is so far out of his depth he’s metaphoric­ally bumping along the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Hats off to all those giving their help, in a thousand different ways.

Our NHS staff, care workers and members of the public in their millions have all stepped up, giving an object lesson in the best of human nature.

But let’s not laud a government that has let us all down so badly, and has done its best to deflect blame here, there and everywhere.

And as for doling out badges to care workers – what an insult!

How about giving them fair workloads, fair wages and the right equipment instead?

Paul Halas Stroud

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