Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/460/1659
Protests force partial retreat from cuts
NHS STAFF and service users in Nottingham's hospitals will welcome the news that £20 million funding will come from the two local primary care trusts (PCTs) to ensure hospitals break even by April 2007. A Nottingham NHS worker writes that the unions must use this breathing space to safeguard jobs and services in the longer term.
THE SIZE of the threatened cuts (£60 million and 1,200 job losses) shocked staff and service users. This anger was reflected in the 3,000-strong demonstration organised by the UNISON union and RCN. Socialist Party members have been campaigning for months against these cuts, collecting hundreds of signatures in town and holding two public meetings.
Fear of the political consequences probably forced this partial retreat, but management still clearly intend to make huge cuts in the next financial year and reduce posts.
They are also considering cutting and reorganising services. For example, they will look at maternity services just being provided at Queen's Medical Centre rather than providing a more local service.
Questions still exist. What cuts will be made to services at Nottingham University Hospitals? How will the PCTs find the 'extra' £20 million? Will there, for instance, be cuts in projects to tackle health inequality - the biggest cause of ill health?
What threats exist for staff such as health visitors and district nurses? Will any more jobs be created for qualified nurses, physiotherapists etc. as many trained students cannot get a job at present?
According to the guardian, an estimated 10% of funds for education and training were being used to plug deficits. Has the Strategic Health Authority used any of its resources in such a way?
The unions needs to use the breathing space at Nottingham University Hospital to prepare for industrial action.
Otherwise jobs will still go and services be cut. They must also defend health staff and services in primary care and at the strategic health authorities.
The government feather-beds the private sector through business consultancy, PFI schemes and Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTCs) with their premium tariffs taking work off the Trusts and causing even more financial problems.
The deficit should be written off, the NHS should be publicly owned and democratically run. We don't want an NHS franchise but a National Health Service!
In The Socialist 26 October 2006:
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