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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 September 2013

NHS: action to improve care

Becky Jackson, Staff nurse

Whipps Cross, east London, is one of many hospitals mired in crisis. Following a merger with three other hospital trusts, Whipps Cross is run by the Barts Health NHS Trust, which is crippled by Private Finance Initiative (PFI) debts.

Having announced a cuts programme of 77.5 million last month - the largest of any NHS trust - this financial crisis will inevitably damage services and compound the already impossible working conditions of staff caring for Whipps patients.

In a series of unannounced inspections, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the care regulators, found that Whipps had "systemic failings", breaching ten of the 16 national standards for quality and safety of care.

Political considerations

NHS campaigners want only the best care in our hospitals and should constantly take action against failings.

But there is little doubt that the CQC reports are written with current political priorities in mind.

The government and their stooges in NHS trusts across the country will stop at nothing to achieve their goal of stripping down, breaking up and privatising NHS services.

And in the wake of both the Francis Report, detailing the crisis at Mid Staffs and the Keogh Review, looking at the quality of care in 14 other hospitals with the highest death rates, the relationship between the board and the ward has never been clearer.

Cuts in services, lack of staff, reductions in bed numbers: all have been highlighted as problems in so-called "failing hospitals".

The drive to pay off the PFI loan sharks and keep up with government "efficiency savings" against a backdrop of an aging population with ever more complex health needs is leaving hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals and assistants unable to cope with the strain.

In the absence of any statutory staffing levels, ward sisters and charge nurses are left with only flimsy local guidelines to plan the workforce around.

In an attempt to keep costs down, a greater share of the work is being carried out by unregistered healthcare assistants.

Many are not given adequate training and frequently feel unsupported in their jobs, according to a recent poll by the British Journal of Healthcare Assistants.

On top of that, workplace stress, bullying and staff burn-out are becoming more commonplace.

Not fooled

Despite the best attempts of the bosses and media to turn the mood against Whipps Cross, most people can see what is happening.

At Whipps there is a trade union leadership in the local Unison health branch which is prepared to fight and is appealing to the community and other campaigners to get behind it.

The branch has called two protests which will be just the start of the campaign and are prepared to call strike action if necessary.

Further crises on the scale of Mid Staffs are not inevitable. However, the underlying problem - austerity policies - can only be fought with a head-on challenge from the trade unions.

The NHS is under attack. Failures in care will serve as a stick for the Coalition to beat us with, in order to roll out further privatisations.

Only through mass action can we secure a properly funded, publicly owned, high quality NHS for generations to come.

Protest to defend Whipps Cross:

Demonstrate at the Tory party conference to save the NHS!

Sunday 29 September 2013
Assemble at Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP, 11am. Marching to a rally in Whitworth Park

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In The Socialist 4 September 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Syria: Cameron defeated; Now defeat Tory cuts!

United strike action against the Con-Dems

Don't fall for the shares-for-rights scam

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

When the world economic crisis makes landfall in S Asia

Socialist history

1993: BNP racists forced off Brick Lane

Socialist Party reviews

Police spies and the workers' movement

TV review - MLK: The Assassination Tapes

Socialist Party workplace news

Blacklist defeat - Frank Morris reinstated on Crossrail

Hovis bakers on 7-day strike against massive pay cuts and casualisation

Carers at Future Directions continue their fight

Coventry Unison protest

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Council leader announces 'no bedroom tax evictions this year'

Build partnership in action against austerity

Miliband expected to promise repeal of bedroom tax

NHS: action to improve care

Lift the ban on campaign stalls in Newham, east London

Burston strike school celebrated

London protest against attack on Syria

Bristol TUSC - we're fighting the cuts

Socialism 2013

Help fund the anti-austerity fightback!


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