Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/667/11880
Kick big business out of health care
United action to defend NHS
Last week nurses, delegates to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) conference, rejected Tory health secretary Andrew Lansley's backdoor privatisation health bill by a massive 99% to 1%.
They also voted to consider strike action.
Lansley claimed that the government's hated health 'reforms' had merely suffered from "communication problems" and that he really has the health service's interests at heart!
The government's savage NHS budget cuts are destroying thousands of health workers' jobs and closing A&Es and other hospital departments. Meanwhile the NHS is breaking up under a developing market system in health care.
This process will deepen under the government's Health and Social Care Bill, which the government, under public pressure, now says it will 'reconsider.'
The bill would transfer most of the NHS's commissioning budget from primary care trusts to consortiums of GPs. In practice, this will let private health care companies seize control of the NHS's multi-billion pound budget.
Chancellor George Osborne has approved another 61 Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, worth £7 billion, despite rubbishing PFI when in opposition.
PFI schemes are good news for contractors and bad for the NHS. A private contractor builds a hospital and owns it for 25 or 35 years, leasing it back to the NHS for a profit.
The PFI-built Princess Royal hospital in Bromley will cost the NHS £1.2 billion.
That's over ten times its actual value!
And then there are private health care company-run Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs), spearheaded by the last Labour government, that provide hip replacement, cataract operations, etc at far higher cost than the NHS.
And ISTCs have been charging the NHS irrespective of how many patients were treated - this scam cost £22 million in London's NHS alone. But the "pause" in the Con-Dems' plans, following the magnificent 26 March demonstration, shows they are under pressure.
The best way to defeat these attempts to destroy the NHS would be for the health unions to build on this pressure and to coordinate strike action with the PCS, NUT and UCU public sector unions on 30 June as part of campaign against all cuts.
The NHS trade unions must act. Rob Williams from the National Shop Stewards Network said: "Events are moving fast.
"The RCN is threatening strike action and Unite's national health committee is supporting coordinating strikes.
"Surely now's the time for a joint conference of NHS stewards and reps from Unison, Unite and the RCN to discuss the action necessary to shatter Lansley's plans once and for all."
- Stop the cuts. For a fully funded, publicly owned NHS.
- End all privatisation through GP consortiums or other methods.
- Return privatised services to NHS control. Publicly fund and integrate them with the rest of the NHS.
- For united action to defend the NHS involving trade unions, anti-cuts campaigns and service users.
In The Socialist 20 April 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party features
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