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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 August 2013

Don't let them kill our NHS

Wales' Mid-Staffs crisis

Ross Saunders, Cardiff Socialist Party

Welsh NHS cuts have forced 13,000 operations to be cancelled in the last three years, a whopping 4,000 of which were at the University of Wales Hospital in the Heath, Cardiff.

The Royal College of Surgeons said services at the hospital were "dangerous" and of "poor quality". Patients, they said, were "dying regularly" while waiting for heart surgery. 152 patients have died because of heart surgery delays at the Heath and Morriston (Swansea) hospitals since the recession began.

Labour MP Ann Clwyd has called the Heath "the Welsh equivalent" of the Mid Staffs scandal, but Clwyd played a terrible role as the Con-Dems' "patients' tsar" in attacking health workers for falling standards instead of government cuts.

Opposition is growing but it must get organised immediately, because the pace of attacks is quickening. Over half of the operations cancelled at the Heath were scheduled for this year.

Despite a promise by Labour's First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to Wales TUC that cuts in the NHS would not mean redundancies, the Cardiff and Vale Health Board issued '188' notices to cut 384 staff.

Labour-run Neath and Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taff councils threaten to do similar.

The heroic efforts of most NHS staff, many doing unpaid overtime every week in incredibly intense working environments, will not be able to prevent the cuts doing further damage to the service.

The revelations have blown apart Welsh Labour's claim that they are protecting Wales from Tory attacks.

Wales doesn't have privatisation pushed to the same degree as in England, but the funding cuts are on an unprecedented scale.

According to the Audit Office, by 2014/15 spending per person on health in Wales will be lower than any other part of the UK.

This will create more space for private healthcare companies to cater to those who can afford to jump the queue.


Mark Drakeford AM, the health minister, has refused a public inquiry into the crisis at the Heath. Labour denounces cuts when demanded by Westminster, but pretends that they are 'improvements' when the Welsh Government obediently implements them.

For example, Labour claims the plan to downgrade Accident and Emergency Services in South Wales is driven by clinical priorities, not by cuts.

Protests have forced a delay in the "South Wales Programme", which would leave just four or five fully equipped A&E and maternity departments for 2.1 million people.

Drakeford has declared ambulance targets "clinically irrelevant". Despite the Herculean efforts of understaffed ambulance workers, the Welsh Ambulance Service has missed its targets every month for over a year. Urgent cancer care targets have also been missed.

Wales needs an Assembly government that would demand the needed funding, not dress the cuts up as improvements or wring their hands and weep while they swing the Tory axe.

Drakeford's first announcement as health minister was that health boards must stick to their spending limits.

The opposite policy should be pursued: health boards should spend what is required to maintain services.

Other parts of the public sector, like councils which can borrow or use reserves, can take up the slack, while a Wales-wide campaign against health cuts links up the vibrant local campaigns to demand the needed funding from Westminster.

Wales TUC, despite passing a motion at its conference, has not organised a demonstration against NHS cuts.

Building a mass movement in Wales to defend the NHS, linking up with the rest of the UK, is essential: without it the NHS will be killed by privatisation in England and starvation in Wales.


Protest at the Tory Conference

SAVE OUR NHS •Defend Jobs and Services • No to Austerity

Manchester March and Rally - Sunday 29 September
Assemble at Liverpool Road, M3 4FP, 11am
Marching to a rally in Whitworth Park

Defend all Barts health services and staff

Protest: Monday 16 September, 5pm, Whipps Cross Hospital main gate

Demonstrate: Saturday 21 September, 12noon, The Green by Whipps Cross Hospital (near roundabout bus stops), marching to Walthamstow town square

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In The Socialist 28 August 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop cuts - Demand united action

Lobbying bill: don't let this Tory dream come true

The trial of Chelsea Manning

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

No to imperialist intervention in Syria

Egypt: al-Sisi's military tightens its grip on power

Socialist Party feature

"I have a dream" - 50th anniversary of march

'Youth Fight for Jobs' campaigning

Unionise to fight zero-hour contracts!

Nothing new at Sports Direct

Socialist Party workplace news

One Housing Group workers go into battle again

Unison: Tiny margin against Scottish local government strike

Coventry postal workers fight bullying management

The role of a workers' rep

Workplace In Brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fighting mood at meeting to defend Whipps Cross Hospital

Wales' Mid-Staffs crisis

Support the DPAC week of action

Carlisle - Building the anti-bedroom tax fightback

Arrest Cuadrilla bosses - not fracking protesters!

Socialist Party camp

Socialist Party reviews

Film review: Elysium - an 'allegory for class warfare'

Exhibition review: Lowry's one track vision


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