The mainstream and social media are flooded with talk about the huge cyber-attack on the NHS, with numerous hospitals and even GP surgeries affected, operations cancelled and people told not to attend even A&E except in the most dire circumstances.
Let’s be clear – there are no perfect defences against hacking and cyber-attack. But for this many facilities to be taken down simultaneously is a sign of a system that was already under extreme stress. And for that, the Tories must take responsibility.
While the Tories have been perfectly happy to lie about their NHS spending, even when they’ve received multiple rebukes from the UK Statistics Authority for their false claims, the reality is that real-terms NHS spending has fallen since 2010 – and their claim of putting £10 billion extra into the Health Service was rubbished even by the Tory chair of the Commons Health Committee.
Even the money the Tories do put in, they suck out again via ‘Treasury clawbacks’.
The NHS has lost thousands of nurses since the Tories entered Downing Street – 2,700 just in 2016 – and their decision to cut the bursary for student nurses – which Labour will reverse – has led to a sharp fall in nurses entering training.
Back-office cuts are taking their toll as crucial admin functions founder, worsening the financial crisis.
GPs are under enormous strain and thousands are choosing to retire or change job, leading to a huge 12.2% shortfall in GP numbers.
Accident and Emergency (A&E) waiting times have increased massively – more than doubling in just three years.
Waiting times for non-emergency operations have reached record levels and are expected to double next year if the Tories remain in government:
The NHS is lurching from one crisis to another. Like a virus-weakened host, its defences were lowered and just waiting to be overwhelmed by hackers.
And Jeremy Hunt has already said there will be no extra cash for our starved and weakened Health Service under a Tory government.
As cyber-security analyst Graham Cluley told BBC News today,
The NHS is vulnerable because..it hasn’t invested enough computer security. They’re using old computers, old systems.
Well obviously. When the NHS can’t afford its core, life-saving staff and services, there is simply no way it’s going to be able to even think about keeping on top of IT security. If you can’t afford nurses and vital operations, you’re not going to have money to spend on the latest operating systems and defences.
In other words, a Tory government is the equivalent of an HIV infection for the NHS – and Tories have no interest in providing the treatment to prevent systems being weakened until there’s a full-blown collapse of its systems.
BBC News and other media outlets are busily spinning this as incidental, as if the fact that this is a global attack the effects on the NHS are merely incidental. That’s completely misleading.
Today’s attack might not have been specifically targeted by criminals, but that’s utterly irrelevant. Germs are everywhere, but it’s those with a weakened immune system who are most likely to catch a disease.
Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, was on the right side of history again, warning just this morning about the importance of cyber-security during his landmark Chatham House speech.
The collapse of NHS systems is a massive blow for patients and the health staff they depend on. But it’s also a huge and timely wake-up call to the people of this country as they prepare to go to the polling booths next month.
The basic truth is this: you can never trust a Tory with the NHS.
So thank your lucky stars that you have an opportunity to purge the infection on June the 8th – and don’t waste it.
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