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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 January 2007


Labour to savage NHS jobs

Build for 3 March national NHS demo

A LEAKED document from the Department of Health reveals that New Labour is considering more savage cuts to the NHS that go way beyond anything most anti-cuts campaigners anticipated. An incredible 37,000 more jobs are threatened!

Lois Austin

Yet because of major cuts in training budgets, the NHS is already predicted to be short of 14,000 nurses, 1,200 GPs and 1,100 junior hospital staff by 2011. And the Department of Health has calculated that a 7% increase in the health service workforce is needed in the next financial year if their '18-week waiting-time target' (ie from GP referral to the start of treatment) is to be met.

In an attempt to 'balance the books' they also want to tear up national contracts on pay and conditions, slashing pay for nurses and other staff in regions where average pay is already low, and bringing in temporary contracts wherever possible. Proposals for a three-year pay deal with a below-inflation increase in the first year and the creation of a new lower-paid grade of 'consultant' are included in the leaked papers.

This dossier, if implemented, will be a full-frontal attack on the rights and conditions of NHS staff. No wonder that the health department policy-drafters also mention "a real danger of industrial unrest" in their proposals.

Recent announcements in Greater Manchester show the effects of the government's onslaught to date. NHS bosses wished the conurbation a merry Christmas by devastating maternity and neo-natal care.

A month later, their happy New Year message is to slash A&E and emergency surgery services. Unprecedented in their scale and pace, these attacks will be a disaster for Manchester and the surrounding areas.

The newly-merged Manchester Trust structure will continue trying to set one area against another. Hospitals which now seem safe, such as Tameside, are being prepared for more privatisation - and will face further overcrowding as service cuts kick in elsewhere. In this situation, a 'not in my back yard' approach would be disastrous.

But this is precisely the stance taken by government minister Hazel Blears, who is Salford's MP and New Labour's national chairperson. There was an outcry after she had the nerve to join a demonstration against the closure of Salford Hope hospital's maternity services, while supporting New Labour's overall savaging of the NHS!

The colossal response to health service cuts has involved over one-in-ten of the 3.2 million Greater Manchester population - at meetings, in writing, signing petitions, and so on. This is the largest ever local response of its kind.

To strengthen the many anti-cuts campaigns, unity is central. Health activists and several union branches in Manchester have already enthusiastically backed the call for a national demonstration on 3 March and many more will do so.

A national demonstration on that day, if built for in every area of the country, would be a massive show of opposition to New Labour's health agenda. Join the campaign to build for it, and help to stop the destruction of our health service!

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In The Socialist 11 January 2007:

Sri Lankan government blamed for violent attack on ant-war rally organiers

Labour to savage NHS jobs

Union action can defend the NHS

Manchester NHS: "Making it better" means making it worse

Socialist Students

Students fight for free education

How to become a fees fighter

ISR and Socialist Students' conference - a political voice for young people

Socialist Party news and analysis

The war for oil profits

Murderous raid on anti-war meeting

Ruthless Ruth Kelly

Violence against women

Ipswich murders lift lid on violence against women

Socialist Party review

Pirates of the Caribbean

International socialist news and analysis

Ethiopia invasion throws Somalia further into crisis

The Lagos oil pipeline tragedy was avoidable

Northern Ireland: New governing executive looks in doubt

Socialist Party workplace news

Time for action on pensions!

Vote 'yes' in PCS ballot

Construction boom - workers organise

We want our buses back!

Public transport and private ownership don't mix


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