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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 April 2011

Kick big business out of health care

United action to defend NHS

Dave Carr

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.

Marching to defend the NHS

Marching to defend the NHS   (Click to enlarge)

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."

We say:

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In The Socialist 20 April 2011:


Anti-cuts campaigning

How can the Con-Dem coalition be most effectively punished?

Kick big business out of health care

Fight cuts - vote socialist

Fighting anti-cuts programme needed in Scottish elections

Coventry: support for socialists increases

Enthusiasm for ten TUSC candidates across Kent

Vote Against Cuts alliance launched in Leicester

"Lambeth council know the cost of everything and the value of nothing"


Socialist Students

NUS conference fails to act


International socialist news and analysis

Sarkozy instigates ban on veil to boost his political ratings

Libya: Is humanitarian aid providing mission creep for western powers?

War - what is it good for? Arms sales!


Socialist Party workplace news

Construction workers lobby BP

"Staggering scale" of London Ambulance service cuts

Workplace news in brief

NUT teachers' conference

Leeds Fed Housing strike

Enthusiastic support for PCS call centres strike


Socialist Party features

Anniversary: Black Friday 15 April 1921

The Alternative Vote referendum - 5 May


Socialist Party news and analysis

News in brief

Lid blown off Met's kettle


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Newcastle: Socialists won't be intimidated by racists

Gay protest and discrimination

Angry protest at death of Smiley Culture


 

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