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Britain's National Health Service in crisis amid pandemic

Bianca Rahimi

Press TV, London

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark relief what has been going on behind the scenes of a treasured British institution. The National Health Service has been reduced to a shadow of its former self by defunding and privatization.

The NHS entered the pandemic with a demoralized workforce. Because of new contracts forced through by the government, healthcare professionals have fewer protections. Privatization has led to fewer resources and staff are actually leaving the NHS, tired of working under what Doctor Gill says, are horrendous conditions.

NHS Staff feel undervalued. Their wages have stagnated since the 2008 crash, in real terms, a 15 to 20 percent cut, and under those circumstances, it is very difficult to keep hold of staff. And then we have the whole Brexit thing that discourages European staff.

Before the pandemic hit the NHS had vacancies for 40,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors. The Tory government is being accused of failing to introduce basic healthcare measures and using the hurried roll-out of vaccines to turn the media's attention away from its shortcomings.

We should never have had a third wave. We should never have had tens of thousands of people dying, because the government didn’t act to save life. They acted to save business interests. They are not in government to save life, they’re in government to further the profits of corporations, and human life is not valued by this government.

At the start of the pandemic the opposition Labour party called on ministers to publish the conclusions of a cross-government pandemic drill called Cygnus that took place in 2016. It accurately predicted that a deadly flu-like disease would plunge the NHS into crisis, with a severe shortage of PPE, intensive care beds and ventilators.

The findings of the drill painted a bleak picture of mortuaries overflowing and doctors having to choose which patients had a better chance of survival, leaving the rest to die. Only four years later almost every single one of those predictions have come true, with the death toll passing 100,000 across the UK.

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