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West Midlands says 'Save our hospitals'
ANGER OVER cutbacks in local health services is still growing. Two more marches took place in the West Midlands last weekend. On 28 October, 300 patients and staff marched into Wolverhampton town centre to protest at the proposed loss of 300 jobs as health bosses seek to save £8 million from their overall £37 million 'debt'.
UNISON official Pete Lowe said that the march told the bosses that people will not tolerate public service cuts. Marchers were encouraged to support the 1 November lobby of Parliament.
The next day, nearly 500 marched from Warwick town centre to their threatened hospital. Just like other hospitals in the south of the region - in Nuneaton and Redditch - the Warwick hospital is threatened with loss of childcare and maternity services and reduced accident and emergency services.
Karen Scarrott, a chief organiser of the march and a staff nurse, led the chanting of 'Save Warwick hospital - No cuts in health' 'No ifs, no buts. No health service cuts'. She challenged Patricia Hewitt and the local Labour MP to come to Warwick and Leamington and pledge there would be no run-down of their hospital.
Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist praised the marchers for their efforts and showed that the politicians weren't likely to do as Karen asked. Their 'PFI, Profits From Illness', schemes mean that super-hospitals like Walsgrave in Coventry are hoovering up customers (we are no longer patients) from other hospitals just to pay their bills to private developers.
He warned that people could travel from as far as Worcester for their maternity care! But if the politicians won't listen then they must be made to, said Dave. In Huddersfield Save our NHS campaigners fielded a candidate in local elections and GP and Socialist Party member Jackie Grunsell won an overwhelming victory.
Warwick campaigners went away more confident. There was support from Coventry, Nuneaton and even Kendal, which showed that health campaigners are beginning to work together, building vigorous local campaigns to save their services. They are also building a national campaign to deliver the message to the government's door, which is where the cuts and privatisation are coming from.
In The Socialist 2 November 2006:
International socialist news and analysis
Marxist analysis: history
The Socialist Interview