At the time of writing, the third Covid surge is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, North and South. There are significant differences between the health systems, and they are not alone globally as others have faltered. Under capitalism, health is a commodity. Worldwide, we see public health care systems suffering from lack of funding and increasing marketisation, with deadly consequences for working-class people.
The Stormont politicians – like those at Westminster and in Dublin – are brazenly trying to scapegoat ordinary people for an increase in Covid infection which has been caused by their own pro-corporate policies. Socialists recognise the seriousness of this pandemic and support all necessary measures to protect public health, but the cost must not fall on the shoulders of workers.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the reality of years of chronic underfunding of the NHS. The reality of cutbacks has been evident in the scramble to obtain appropriate PPE, the lack of available ventilators, as well as staff shortages. The pandemic has led to a substantial increase in those on waiting lists, reflective of a longer-term crisis within the NHS. This raises the question of NHS management and illustrates the impact of privatisation.
Across Britian and Northern Ireland to date, over 200 health workers’ lives have been lost to Covid-19. However, Westminster and the Stormont Executive have manipulated the figures, so this will be grossly under-estimated. Grotesquely, the overwhelming majority of these deaths were preventable. The Assembly followed the Tory plan, prioritising profit before people to protect the interests of big business and capitalism. Sinn Féin and the DUP disgracefully used the pandemic as an opportunity to pursue their own sectarian agendas, throwing the Executive into paralysis. This can only be described as criminally negligent in the extreme.