Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/747/15932
Prepare for strike action to save our hospitals
A London nurse
A quarter of a million residents of Lewisham in south London are waiting to hear if they will still have a local hospital.
Asset strippers, led by special administrator Matthew Kershaw, are trying to carve up the local NHS.
Another 500,000 people could be hit by other changes Kershaw is considering in the South London Healthcare Trust hospitals.
The closure of state of the art medical facilities at Lewisham hospital is a disgusting waste of public money. For example it cost £12 million to upgrade Lewisham's
A&E department and put X-ray machines in each cubicle. It is now under threat. If the intensive care unit closes, 100 nursing and medical jobs will be put at risk.
The long term plan for Lewisham hospital is to downgrade it and sell off 58% of the site to property developers.
The administrators also plan to shut Orpington hospital completely and Princess Royal in Bromley may be managed by private providers.
But Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire is already being 'privately managed' with disastrous consequences.
With all of these cuts in our NHS, sitting back and complaining isn't enough. There is already a community-based fightback in south London which is holding another big protest on 26 January.
Lewisham hospital staff want to join in with the public and fight but they are being held back by their union leadership.
These leaders cannot stem the tide of anger forever. Regional officials from Unison recently attended a Greenwich local 'save our NHS' meeting. That shows the pressure they are under from their members.
In London, seven out of 32 A&E departments are already marked for closure by 2020 and the remainder will have to cover an extra 120,000 people on average.
But this battle is nationwide. It is time the health workers' unions and the trade union movement as a whole gave a clear lead in fighting these plans.
The fight needs to be escalated by encouraging nurses and other NHS staff to move to the forefront of the struggle and take industrial action. They will get massive public support and backing when they do so!
Socialist Party activists from Greenwich and Lewisham are offering staff encouragement and a programme to get their unions moving to defend all the hospitals at risk.
We are urging health workers to petition their union leaderships and put motions to their branches calling for a strike ballot.
We stress that these NHS cuts are not necessary. Our ideas are chiming with hospital staff and local people alike.
The fight for Lewisham A&E and the future of the NHS is on. With determined action we can defeat these cuts.
In The Socialist 9 January 2013:
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