New-born babies will die because of the £20bn NHS cuts. Afghan civilians and British soldiers will die because of £20bn spent on the Afghanistan war. Solution: cut the war, stop the cuts.
Stop the War Coalition
18 October 2011
The government is cutting £20 billion from the National Health Service (NHS) budget by 2015.
This is exactly the amount it will be spending over the same period on the war in Afghanistan, which everyone knows is serving no purpose but to save the faces of the politicians and generals who took us into it.
We are to have a least four more years of war because our political and military leaders cannot face admitting that all the killing and dying has been pointless and has made Afghanistan more insecure and more unstable.
Almost unreported this week was the death of 21-year-old British soldier Vijay Rai, bringing the total of British killed in Afghanistan to 383. No coverage is given at all to the thousands of Afghan civilians who, according to the United Nations, are being killed at a higher rate than at any time since the US-led occupation of Afghanistan began ten years ago.
But now we know that the lives so tragically wasted in a war opposed by over 70% of the British public, will be joined by the deaths caused by savage cuts in Britain's National Health Service.
The Guardian reports that these are already having a devastating impact on the front line services that prime minister David Cameron and health minister Andrew Lansley promised would be "protected".
In his 2010 election campaign, David Cameron's stated categorically, "I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS."
This was quite simply a lie.
Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, the union representing 400,000 NHS staff including nurses and paramedics, said the emerging cuts were "a shocking indictment" of the government. The public will not be fooled by David Cameron's hollow words ever again.
"Just over a year in office, and the damage to the NHS is clear to see: birth centres closing, patients left in pain, public health programmes dwindling, district nurse visits being cut, health workers losing their jobs. Waiting lists are rising, and the health bill no-one wants will change our health service beyond recognition, throwing the doors open to privatisation on a never before seen scale," she said.
The Royal College of Nursing spells out what this will mean for new-born babies: "It is deeply shocking that at a time when extra nurses are needed to meet even the most basic standards of neonatal care, some trusts are making reckless cuts to posts, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the care of premature and sick babies."
To which the health charity Bliss adds: "The lives of England's sickest babies are at risk by needless cuts to the neonatal nursing workforce."
In short, babies in Britain will die because the NHS is being drained of funding at the very time that the cost of war is not only "protected" but is increasing.
The cuts already implemented are having a devastating effect on health services. But they are just the prelude to even deeper "efficiency savings" that will put at risk the lives and the quality of life of NHS patients -- from new-born babies to the very elderly.
Cutting the war in Afghanistan would make all of these NHS cuts unnecessary.
Better still, cut the cost of war in Libya, which will soon reach £2 billion, and the £2.2 annual cost of maintaining the militarily useless Trident nuclear missile – the only purpose of which is to enable puffed up politicians to posture among the "big boys" on the international stage – and the NHS could be provided with the increased funding needed to meet the health needs of everyone in Britain.
Go further still, and reduce the absurd spending on Britain's military – the third highest of any country in the world, after the USA and China – and it's easy to see that it's nonsense to say the only way to solve the economic crisis is by the biggest cuts in social and welfare services seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Cutting war and arms dealing is one of the main demands of the worldwide Occupy Wall Street Movement, confirmed again by the current occupation in the City of London financial centre.
Clearly, the momentum to roll back the government's cuts and war policies needs to gather speed. The TUC Day of Action for pensions justice on 30 November -- likely to be the biggest day of industrial action since the 1926 General Strike -- will be supported by Stop the War Coalition with our slogan "Cut War, Not Welfare".
It should be supported by all who oppose not just the cuts in public services but also the war policies that have so disfigured Britain's public life over the past decade.