Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/465/1806
Ripping the heart out of the NHS
"THE OTHER day a district nurse, who had previously worked in our practice, came to me in tears. She is one of the most experienced, most dedicated women I have ever known. She's due to retire very soon and she can't wait to leave. She was upset because she couldn't give patients the service she felt they deserved."
Dr Jackie Grunsell, Socialist Party member and Huddersfield Save Our NHS councillor passionately exposed the effects of New Labour's health policies at one of the closing rallies at Socialism 2006.
"I think this government are ripping the heart out of the NHS by the way that they are treating the staff. But it's the staff's dedication which has made the NHS something everyone can be proud of.
"Now people like that district nurse can't wait to get out of the NHS - people who used to give their lives to providing a decent service.
"The district nurses in our area have just undergone major restructuring. The primary care trust is in deficit to the tune of £6.4 million, so the trust decided to employ management consultants to tell us how we should run the service.
"We've gone from 125 district nurses across the borough to just 100. And now they have to work differently. The most experienced staff have been told they have to spend 60% of their time doing administration, not in face-to-face contact with patients!
"A job advertised for a nurse in Barnsley recently had 1,500 applicants. So, in spite of the investment that has taken place, nurses are on the dole queue.
"The British healthcare system has been repeatedly subjected to market-driven reforms in the last 25 years. And that process has been accelerated by the party which set up the NHS - the Labour Party.
"New Labour's objective is to turn the NHS into nothing more than a brand name - a centralised fund that will commission services and not provide them.
"Billions of pounds are funnelled into contracts with private health providers, whilst NHS hospitals suffer large deficits and are forced to close beds. Just the administration of those 'reforms' has cost at least £12 billion. In the 1980s, 4% of the NHS budget was spent on administration. That has increased to 16% today. And that doesn't include all the money that is spent on management consultant fees, etc. That money is being diverted away from patient care and from staff.
"The private sector are cream-skimming the easiest, cheapest operations from the NHS. Despite that, on average it costs 11% more for an operation to be done in an independent sector treatment centre than on the NHS.
"This is part of the deliberate destabilisation of the health service to allow private companies to come in and buy parts of the NHS. The government have complete disregard of the effect that has on NHS staff and service users."
It is no wonder that a recent Mori poll has found only 19% of adults believe that the NHS will get better. 46% believe it will worsen. As all the speakers in the NHS SOS rally said - it's time to link all the campaigns to defend the NHS together.
In The Socialist 29 November 2006:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review