The pandemic has not only revealed the ailing state of the health system in capitalist countries. It has also exacerbated the situation. Health and care workers, who were already working under difficult conditions before the pandemic, have been further squeezed in the pandemic. Many have been infected in their work and the number of those whose work has cost them their lives is too high. But even now that the virus seems “less dangerous”, the situation is is worsening instead of improving. Many workers in hospitals and in the medical sector have sought new jobs in another sector, which further increases the staff shortage, exhausting working hours and pressure. The mobilisations of workers in the health sector against the prevailing conditions are a hopeful development.
The health system in the capitalist states does not meet the needs of the working class and the popular strata. The policy of capitalism regarding healthcare is dangerous, it is oriented towards the logic of profit and the limiting of funding, which not only perpetuates the shortage of personnel but also places heavy burdens on patients and their families, undermining necessary services.
There are increasing reports that hospital departments or even entire hospital units have been forced to close due to the costs incurred in the pandemic, or that hospitals are even threatened with bankruptcy. Operating theatres, laboratories or even wards are closed and so on. In capitalism, the health system is a system of scarcity fuelling business activity. One supposedly has to work with this scarcity according to the so-called minimum standards because profits and not health are at the centre of decisions. The system works well for the bourgeoisie, who can buy the best medical services and care privately with their wealth and thus are not affected by the deteriorating situation in the public health system. This only affects the working people and the other poor popular strata.
A health system and policy that leaves the working class largely unprotected not only from the pandemic but from almost all other needs for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation must be fundamentally restructured. The universal, public and free protection of people's health must become a springboard for mass struggles around the world. On the other hand, commercialisation is increasing with all kinds of grants being provided for business operation in healthcare, including EU programmes, which is evident from private–public partnerships, contractors, hospital charges and the expansion of private hospitals and diagnostic centres. The EU policy, thus, reveals the true class nature of its member states and their commitment to protect the interests of their monopolies.
Capital has used the global pandemic to shift the costs of the crisis and the pandemic onto the working class, further restricting its social and political rights while giving tax giveaways to the monopolies. While the working class is still recovering from the losses of family members, friends and colleagues, or even its own illness and mental stress, and millions of people are suffering from the post-COVID syndrome, the corporations are already raking in record profits again.
- A public and free healthcare system, with universal and enhanced prevention and healthcare services, free from any entrepreneurial activity.
- Immediate recruitment of all the necessary medical–nursing staff, ensuring their permanent and full-time employment.