Statement on special measures at Cambridge University Hospitals

We're saddened that Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, responsible for our renowned local hospitals Addenbrooke's and the Rosie, was yesterday placed in special measures by the regulator Monitor after being rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) blames the trust's management for its decline. We believe this can only be a part of the full explanation, which would examine the role of the policies and politics of austerity. If the CQC is right to think the trust didn't help itself, nevertheless the fact is that Cambridge University Hospitals has fallen to an epidemic: there are currently fifteen hospital trusts in special measures.

Inadequate care is a risk that follows from inadequate funding. Since 2010 the Department of Health has dispensed slight annual increases in real spending (0.8 per cent on average, according to an article by the King's Fund) alongside prescriptions for severe cost savings. Meanwhile the tight squeeze on non-EU immigration, in an attempt to satisfy the racist resentment patronized recently by both main parliamentary parties – migrants being offered as scapegoats for austerity – has led to staff shortages like those which concerned the CQC here.

We wish Cambridge University Hospitals the best of luck, but new personnel and practices will encounter the same conditions. Austerity means the underfunding and privatization of healthcare and other public services (in Cambridgeshire, the GP out-of-hours service is the next to be put to tender). Yesterday's shock is a reminder why the campaigns we aim to link and support must prevail.

Cambridge People's Assembly

23 September 2015

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