Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/466/1821
NHS campaigns unite
THE BATTLE to defend the NHS took another step forward when 23 NHS campaign groups from around the country met in Nuneaton on 2 December. They came from as far afield as Kendal, Leeds and Huddersfield and from the south-east and south-west and from London.
All had the same aim - to defend the NHS. The meeting's main point was to organise national action and unite campaigns from around the country.
As Rob, the organiser from the Banbury campaign, said: "These cuts are not just local decisions, they're part of a government scheme. The decision to close half the maternity hospitals is a national government plan and that's why we need a national campaign".
Andrew Billson-Page from Kendal Save Our NHS said: "Everybody in our area is terrified about what will happen to our community if our local hospital closes. Our group started with me, a nurse, and five patients - it has grown into something involving the whole community.
"We set up PUSH (People United Saving Hospitals) to be a national umbrella group to develop solidarity between the campaigns and give advice to each other".
Other speakers reported from their areas. Just about everyone there was frustrated at the lack of national action called by the national trade union leaders. As Vanessa Casey, the main PUSH organiser said as she opened the meeting, "if all we achieve is to force the powers-that-be to call a national demonstration we would have achieved a great deal".
The meeting agreed to call a national demonstration on Saturday 3 March and to campaign to get the unions and the TUC to also call a national demonstration on that day.
The plans for the national day of action on 15 December came rolling in with campaigns planning vigils, protests and mass meetings outside hospitals on that day. Delegates from London reported that the Waltham Forest National Union of Teachers had agreed to organise lunch-time gate meetings of teachers and students in support of the local hospital, Whipps Cross (see page 3).
This campaign to save our NHS becomes more crucial daily. On the same day as campaigners met to discuss a national strategy in Nuneaton, press reports said that Britain's biggest teaching hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was proposing £50 million worth of cuts and shedding up to 1,000 jobs.
The NHS is being sliced up everywhere. Ward and bed closures are happening daily. Jobs are being destroyed and profitable parts of the NHS are being sold off to private health-care vultures.
Build the 15 December national day of action and the national week of action in January, organised by Keep Our NHS Public and let's get thousands out for a national demonstration on 3 March!
National day of action - 15 December
National demo 'Save Our NHS' - 3 March 2007
In The Socialist 7 December 2006:
War and terrorism
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis