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Posted on 26 October 2011 at 16:18 GMT

Rally against NHS privatisation in York

York Stop The Cuts recently held a rally outside Haxby Health Centre, on the outskirts of York. The centre had sparked a national controversy by writing letters to 30 patients offering a range of "minor" treatments privately through a company owned by the practice, claiming that the NHS had stopped funding these treatments.

There were many speakers at the rally. The representative from Defend Our NHS explained that this is where our NHS is headed.

He added that since their inception under Labour in 2002, Primary Care Trusts [that, until 2013, commission local health services] have been restricting the range of treatments doctors could refer patients for.

Other speakers weren't afraid to mince their words, and although there was no love lost for the Tories - it was noted that previous Labour governments have laid the groundwork for the current Tory health secretary, Andrew Lansley, to do a hatchet-job on the NHS.

A local Labour councillor said that we here "all have our own ideas about exactly how much privatisation we think is good for the NHS"!

A Socialist Party member spoke. He was alone in pointing out that for years nurses and frontline staff have been under attack, having to work long hours and seeing meagre pay-rises - this despite claimed record levels of investment in the NHS in Labour's so-called 'boom years'.

Why is it that we see discrepancies like this? Because this investment was coupled with unprecedented levels of public spending on private enterprise.

Privatisation of cleaning services, the finance black-holes like PFIs, and the state's contribution to big pharmaceutical companies' profits, have seen the NHS left chronically under-staffed.

The speech was very well received, showing that people still want to fight for the NHS, and as the attacks start to bite, people will start to see the need for a fightback with increasing clarity.

Martin Readle, York Socialist Party

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