Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/736/15364
Cut the Con-Dems - not our NHS!
So much for David Cameron's general election pledge to 'not cut the NHS' - our health service is in the middle of a £20 billion 'efficiency drive' - ie cuts.
Since the 2010 election, nurse and midwife numbers have gone down by 6,000. Waiting times have gone up - 68,000 London patients at 16 large trusts had to wait over four hours in the first six months of 2012, compared to 28,400 in 2010. More hospitals are facing downgrades and closures.
In England, these cuts are part of getting the NHS ready for the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act, which will end the NHS as we know it. Robin Clapp, from Bristol, gives a taste of what the Con-Dems' plans mean.
For years and years I've campaigned against NHS cuts and sold copies of the Socialist outside of the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI). Very often afterwards I've gone for a cup of tea in the café run by the WRVS (Women's Royal Voluntary Service), always receiving a warm and supportive response from these elderly women - surely ideal role models for Cameron's "Big Society"?
But hospitals are changing and no longer have a place for humble cafes staffed by volunteers. The WRVS shop has been boarded up and a massive Costa Coffee stall now stands imposingly in front of the main entrance.
This is the first stage in a massive redevelopment of the site. All around the hospital there are signs of building.
New wards perhaps? A new cardiology unit? No of course not. It's all to do with constructing a new "Welcome Centre" which is the euphemism for a mini shopping mall.
With NHS workers being placed on zero contracts, threats to the BRI's A&E unit and a hardnosed management seeking to force workers into tearing up national pay and conditions in favour of regional pay, it seems that the priority at the moment is to ensure the effective delivery of a new retail space.
Even the site building workers I've spoken to are cynical and angry about this and can appreciate the absurdity of hospitals renting out much needed space to turn themselves into shops.
But that's the logic of privatising the NHS - if the Tories succeed, you'll be able to buy an expensive coffee, cardigan or cell phone on the way in, while needing to have your credit card ready to purchase your medical treatment at the reception desk. Like in the US, they'll want to feel your wallet before feeling your pulse.
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In The Socialist 3 October 2012:
Education news & analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis