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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2006

NHS: stop this market madness

Build for national action

Private operating theatres in supermarket car-parks! Cancer treatment for pets! This is the madness that the 'internal market' and privatisation is bringing to the NHS.

Alistair Tice

Overpaid, unelected and unaccountable trust bosses are cutting millions of pounds to 'balance' NHS budgets and make 'efficiency savings'. They're shutting hospitals, closing wards and losing jobs. And they're paying private management consultants millions of pounds to advise them on how to do it!

It's government policies that are to blame. New Labour ministers and MPs showed their True Blue colours when lobbied by health service campaigners last week. Singing from their 'spin' sheets, they repeated their mantra of spending more on the NHS. But where has all the money gone? Clearly not to where it's needed but on more managers, more management consultants and to the private sector.

The NHS gross deficit was just over 1 billion last year. That's exactly how much NHS spending on private treatment is set to reach. In other words, whilst the NHS is cut back, the money saved is going straight into the pockets of the private sector to boost their profits!

Trade unions estimate that 20,000 jobs have been lost so far. New Labour say only 903 compulsory redundancies, the rest is through 'natural wastage'. On hearing this, one specialist nurse told me "I thought natural wastage was what I clean up every day!" It's certainly a government mess!

Due to these cuts 71% of recently qualified nurses have not yet got jobs and overall health care student numbers have dropped by 13%.

Cuts and staff shortages cost lives. That's why every weekend there are demonstrations around the country to Save our NHS. The growing NHS protests are being likened to the anti-poll tax revolt that brought down Thatcher. Blair's government is worried. They've secretly produced a heat-map highlighting "strong public unrest".

NHS campaigners need to link together all these 'hot-spots' - all the local campaigns together with the health service trade unions. The 1 November march and lobby of Parliament was a start. Now the trade union leaders must be pressured into calling a national demonstration which could rally tens of thousands. This would give confidence to NHS workers that they have mass public support to take strike action to save jobs and services.

Therefore all health campaign groups are urged to attend the co-ordinating meeting called by People United Saving Hospitals (PUSH) in Nuneaton on 2 December. This plans an inaugural day of action across the country on Friday 15 December which can act as a springboard for a national demo in the spring.

PUSH meeting, Saturday 2 December, 2pm, The Ex-servicemen's Club, Coton Road, Nuneaton. For more details contact vanessa.casey@ or Lois Austin on 020 8988 8779.

Rally for Socialism

Saturday 25 November, 6.30pm-9pm

Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1.

Speakers include: Len Hockey, Whipps Cross hospital UNISON joint branch secretary, personal capacity. Councillor Jackie Grunsell, Huddersfield Save Our NHS. Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS civil servants' union, personal capacity. Tommy Sheridan, Solidarity MSP. Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary.

This rally is part of Socialism2006, the Socialist Party's annual weekend of discussion and debate. For further details see:

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 9 November 2006:

NHS: stop this market madness

Doctor attacks Labour-backing Prentis

Health minister's 'scary' performance

The public-sector fat cats

Out of the horse's mouth

Socialist Students

Students can defeat fees

Campaign to defeat top-up fees

Build a real alternative to BNP

War and terrorism

Hanging Saddam won't end crisis in Iraq

International socialist news and analysis

Solidarity - Scotland's socialist movement

Reactionary Jewish and Arab groups in homophobic campaign


National action needed against performance pay

Devon teachers get organised

Education protests

Marxist analysis: history

When British imperialism hit the rocks


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