Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/643/10443
NHS: Not safe in Con-Dem hands
THE FUNDING crisis facing the NHS is even now becoming apparent. The Guardian reported on 13 October that the South West Essex primary care trust (PCT) has overspent by £52 million.
SW Essex PCT has rushed through emergency measures to cut its budgets. Some 224 staff are to be made redundant in the next few months. The Trust has made it clear that this is only the start of redundancies.
Most of those staff losing their jobs initially will be lower grade managers and administrative staff. With over 2,000 people registered out of work in the locality this represents a very significant increase in those unemployed and will be a tragedy for the individuals concerned who will struggle to find alternative jobs. Moreover this level of redundancies will affect patient care and services.
The next round of redundancies will be staff who work in the community with patients. Massive cuts in funds allocated to Basildon Hospital and South Essex Partnership Trust (that is the mental health and community trust) will result in further job losses and serious attacks on local health services.
The PCT has decided that for up to eight weeks they will halt all outpatient referrals to hospital (unless emergencies) and elective non-emergency surgery. This will increase waiting lists for all local people.
IVF treatment will cease (except for those who have had cancer treatment), the budget for treating and helping HIV/AIDS patients will be cut by 20% and spending on the local mental health trust will drop by 10%. These cuts and the others agreed will be of devastating consequence for the local hospitals.
The board of the PCT agreed these and other cuts at their last board meeting without a single board member expressing any opposition or even reservations! That just shows the totally undemocratic nature of PCT boards, who are in no way representative or accountable to the local community.
The health trade unions locally have been organising to resist these cuts. Union membership at the PCT has increased dramatically and staff voted on a show of hands that they were prepared to take industrial action to protest and fight these job losses.
All over the country PCTs are facing problems and provider organisations employing tens of thousands are being transferred to so-called social enterprises (non-profit making but private companies) or broken up and transferred to other NHS organisations.
Primary care staff in the NHS are now beginning to realise that the government's pledge to defend frontline NHS services is nothing but a big lie.
Trade union organisation in primary care trusts has mainly not been as good as that in the rest of the NHS but these attacks are strengthening the health unions. Strong and determined union organisation will be urgently needed to fight these cuts.
SOME 15,000 jobs have been axed from the NHS so far this year, despite the government's pledge to protect NHS spending. And health minister Andrew Lansley has said that the previously announced £20 billion of 'savings' in the NHS by 2014 is not enough. The British Medical Association reckons that every hospital department is facing an 8% or 9% cut in spending this year.
In The Socialist 20 October 2010:
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