Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/460/1655
Healthworkers, patients and campaigners say...
Unite and fight to save the NHS
TWENTY THOUSAND health workers have lost their jobs. Nurses and other health workers are being offered a pathetic 1.5% pay increase - which at half the rate of inflation is effectively a pay cut. Up to 30 community hospitals are threatened with closure. 50% of accident and emergency departments could be axed. 60 wards and departments are up for closure. Market 'reforms' which lead to financial crisis across the NHS are set to continue. We need a united national struggle to save our health service and we need it urgently.
The sweep of protest to stop cuts, closures and privatisation has touched every part of the country. There is a huge attachment among ordinary working people to the National Health Service and it's not to be given up without a fight.
The current wave of cuts and market 'reforms' are preparing for full-scale privatisation which means luxurious health care for the rich and an underprivileged, poverty stricken service for the rest of us.
A national campaign, with a worked out strategy of escalating action to defend the health service is urgent. The TUC lobby of parliament taking place on 1 November is a step forward, and we have to do all we can to make sure it, and the feeder march to it, are as big a success as possible.
But the thousands of NHS workers, patients and community campaigners who will descend on Parliament will not want to leave it there, they will want to hear the way forward and the next step in the campaign to save the NHS.
The TUC and health union leaders should urgently name the day for a national demonstration early in the New Year. Up to now they have dragged their feet. We need to make sure they are flooded with resolutions and letters demanding they call a national demonstration immediately. The health unions must urgently lead their members in a struggle against job losses and redundancies and unite trade unionists with local community campaigns.
Local health campaigns have already began to unite on a national level. London health campaigners and the Pensioners Convention organised the feeder march to the lobby parliament on 1 November and have invited trade union branches and health campaigns from around the country to join them. The PUSH (People United to Save Hospitals) campaign was initiated last weekend in Nuneaton by campaigners from around the country.
All these forces now need to come together urgently to plan the next step. At the time of writing the PUSH-initiated meeting in Nuneaton on 2 December seems the most likely date (for up-to-date details check our website). Come to this meeting and help build the national fightback to save the NHS and plan for a national demonstration early in the New Year.
In The Socialist 26 October 2006:
War and terrorism