Thursday, February 2, 2023
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British Prime Minister Calls a Crisis Meeting Over the Failure of England’s Socialist Healthcare System

'Ambulances [have been] stuck outside hospitals with patients who can't be admitted, and in turn to people with health emergencies waiting hours for ambulances to arrive...'

(Headline USABritish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gathered government ministers, medics and health service managers in 10 Downing St. on Saturday for talks aimed at fixing a health care crisis that has seen thousands of patients stranded outside overflowing hospitals.

The government said it was “bringing together the best minds from the health and care sectors to help share knowledge and practical solutions.”

Britain’s health system faces an inferno of pressures, including rising demand for care after pandemic restrictions were eased; a surge in flu and other winter viruses after two lockdown years; and staff shortages from pandemic burnout and a drought of workers.

Thousands of hospital beds are occupied by people who are fit to be discharged but have nowhere to go because of a dearth of places for long-term care. Official figures show that last week only a third of patients ready to be released from a hospital in England actually left.

That has led to ambulances stuck outside hospitals with patients who can’t be admitted, and in turn to people with health emergencies waiting hours for ambulances to arrive. Health leaders say the delays have likely led to hundreds of deaths.

On top of that, a cost-of-living crisis fueled by soaring food and energy bills has left some health workers struggling to make ends meet. Nurses and ambulance crews have staged walkouts, part of the country’s biggest wave of strikes in decades.

The pressures have renewed a long-running debate about how to fund and run the NHS, set up in 1948 to provide free care to all, funded through taxation. As in other industrialized countries, longer life expectancies and an aging population have increased demand on the constantly overstretched service. 

“High levels of flu, respiratory syncytial virus and rising COVID levels are exacerbating the problem but the cause is decades of under-investment in staffing, capital and the lack of a long-term solution to the capacity-crunch facing social care,” he said.

The government says health funding continues to rise in real terms. It says public sector workers are being offered pay increases but that it can’t afford to give out raises to match inflation, which hit 11.1% in October.

Health union leaders are due to meet the government on Monday in an attempt to end the strikes.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated

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