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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 December 2013

Health service in crisis

Build action to save our NHS!

The public health service is facing another severe crisis this winter as the Con-Dems' and previous Labour governments' policies continue to wreak havoc in the NHS. They have meant billions of pounds in 'efficiency savings' ie cuts, thousands of job losses, A&E and ward closures, and unsustainable PFI privatisations. In England, the Tories' Health and Social Care Act, overwhelmingly opposed by health workers, is little more than a privatisation charter. This systematic dismantling of our public health service will only benefit the private profit vulture companies.

Roger Shrives

After years of cuts, large and small, in the cash-strapped National Health Service (NHS), Con-Dem government ministers are expecting a crisis for patients and staff alike. With fears of another cold winter, Britain's hospitals are desperately trying not to become snowed under with patients with illnesses such as flu and injuries due to falls and accidents.

Health workers are used to winter crises and many see them as part of the job, though constant attacks on NHS pay, conditions and regular stress is leading many nursing staff to leave the service.

But the Con-Dems are worried that an election is on the horizon and an NHS crisis is a vote-loser. After their cuts in frontline staff and ward closures, they have even been reopening closed wards in some areas. An increased number of emergency patients had been admitted already by October. Some of these were doubtless due to previous closures in vital services such as walk-in centres.

Clearly, the tipping point has been reached and a new disaster looms. But Tory panic measures will make little difference.

Already the Nuffield Trust health think tank has told MPs that one in three hospitals could end up in major financial difficulties within months after a huge cash squeeze to try to make 'efficiency savings' ie cut 20-30 billion from the NHS. They say: "Many hospitals face severe and potentially unsustainable financial pressures", and so have a question mark over their future viability.

The NHS may soon no longer be able to bail out hospitals in trouble because "hospital trusts could start becoming unsustainable in larger number than the current system is designed to address", says the Trust.

So, government cuts policies are forcing many hospitals to consider severe cuts and even closures, or be told that the only solution is to let privatising firms 'help' them - for a healthy profit.

Throughout Europe, health services that are free at the point of use are under attack as big business grabs its opportunity to make big money out of people's health worries.

So as winter takes hold, the grim prospect of a new crisis in emergency services appears again.

People are angry about this assault on a vital public service but they need to get organised. Health campaigners should get behind the call for health unions to build a massive national weekend demo and for trade unions to organise a 24-hour general strike to defeat this NHS-wrecking government.

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In The Socialist 4 December 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Corporate Killers!

Boris - it's the system, stupid

SNP's white paper will not deliver decisive change

We need mass house building

Build action to save our NHS!

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

The fight against low pay in the United States

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Kent: Unions and parents unite against all the cuts

Fracking comes North...

Council uses court against Bedroom Tax victims

Support the fightback in Con-Dems' Dickensian Britain

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

London TUSC groups plan for 2014 elections

Socialist Party workplace news

Save our fire service!

Npower job cuts must be fought!

Universities: second coordinated strike over pay

London University: strike by support staff

Support striking St Mungos workers

Civil service union calls for an end to violence in Jobcentres

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Is workfare coming to Morrisons?

Film review: Catching Fire

Why I believe in socialism


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