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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 May 2011

Fight for the NHS

No to cuts and privatisation

Who's banking on the NHS, photo Chris Bird and Leon Kuhn

Who's banking on the NHS, photo Chris Bird and Leon Kuhn   (Click to enlarge)

The Tory/Lib Dem coalition has voted through the Health and Social Care Bill, now at report stage, which will lead to wholesale privatisation of the NHS. The Royal College of GPs, the latest health organisation to condemn the Bill's proposals, said that these 'reforms' risk "unravelling and dismantling" the NHS in England.
As London ambulance driver STEVE HARBORD writes here, in a personal capacity, there seem to be 'wobbles' within the coalition after the Lib Dems' slaughter at the local elections, particularly on the national health service. Now is the time to step up the fight for the NHS.

London ambulance service recently announced 890 job cuts over five years. This is staggering, especially considering the big year-on-year increase in emergency calls to the service.

Trying to sell these cuts to ambulance workers and the general public, the truth is veiled in management-speak. NHS chief executive Sir David Nicolson claims that the NHS "uses efficiency savings to make real improvements in the quality of care for patients".

Improvements? Nonsense! These cuts attack the very principle of the NHS and the welfare state. Alongside the cuts, Con-Dem 'reforms' will mean privatisation. In future any private firm, whose first priority is profit for its shareholders, will be able to apply to run any service within the NHS.

That includes the ambulance service. You can foresee a future service where admin, training, and call-taking are outsourced, and private ambulance services compete for contracts to provide emergency cover - ultimately at the cost of worse terms and conditions for staff and worse services for the general public.

Big businesses will be the only ones to gain long term if we don't fight the sell-off of the NHS and public services. Britain is a rich country but that wealth, generated by working people, is concentrated in the hands of a few greedy individuals and corporations who will do anything to avoid paying tax.

Pharmaceutical companies still overcharge the NHS for medicines. Banks, bailed out in their billions by us, still pay obscene bonuses to the executives on their boards.

But there is an alternative. And what better time than now to step up the fight for the NHS? Politicians wobbling on NHS reforms mean we must hit hard at the coalition.

Workers must keep up the pressure on the trade union leaderships by supporting industrial action across all sectors, starting with the strike action on 30 June. We need to build links with community groups fighting the cuts.

We also need a broad-based socialist alternative to confront this rotten capitalist system, to challenge the spivs in Westminster who protect the interests of big business. This would give working class people a genuine say in how we build a better, fairer society for all.

We say:

March to save the NHS

Tuesday 17 May 5.30pm,

University College Hospital, Gower Street, London WC1

National Shop Stewards Network

The 2011 NSSN conference will be held on 11 June at the South Camden Community School, London NW1 1RG.

The themes are:
Registration begins at 10.30am.
Email to register.

See also and

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In The Socialist 11 May 2011:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fight for the NHS

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

PCS conference: prepare for united action on 30 June

Crucial time for Saltend dispute

Defending trade unionism on London Underground

Poverty minimum wage

Library cuts hit staff and users: time for action against the cuts

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Students

Students occupy against cuts at London Met

For sale: university places

Socialist Party election analysis

Government Con-Demned at ballot box

TUSC shows alternative to Con-Dem and Labour cuts

Labour wins Welsh Assembly election -

SNP landslide but it will be a government of savage cuts

Socialist Party news and analysis

Defend independent living rights

Con-Dems put squeeze on democratic rights

Bahrain repression: Muted criticism of West's ally

Suffolk Tories in retreat?

News in brief

International socialist news and analysis

UN report on Sri Lanka war crimes

Socialist Party reviews

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Review: Panorama on housing: The human impact of the crisis


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