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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 January 2007

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

RIDICULOUS NAMES for the savage cuts in Greater Manchester fool no-one. "Healthy Futures" means cutting A&E and emergency surgery, affecting Bury, North Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale. These areas already have over-stretched facilities. The cuts will overcrowd what facilities remain, and deprive many areas of life-saving services. Rochdale will be especially hard hit.

Hugh Caffrey

"Making it Better" means no maternity service in Trafford, Rochdale, Bury or Salford. Only three neo-natal intensive care units will remain (St Mary's in central Manchester, Oldham and Bolton). This will create chaos. For example, Wythenshawe will have more maternity cases to deal with when the Trafford service is cut, but less neo-natal care than it has now because the local unit is being shut!

Hospitals now getting 'Foundation status' such as Wythenshawe and Hope are told this will secure their future. The financial chaos and continual cuts in Stockport (Stepping Hill), one of the first foundation hospitals in the country, is a stark warning that foundation status is no solution.

Other cuts include closing the elderly rehabilitation wards in Bury and at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, cutting and privatising Manchester's community mental health teams, and threatening to shut Altrincham hospital.

Campaigners in Altrincham won a judicial review ordering a new consultation after bosses didn't even follow their own rules! Bury staff and supporters recently demonstrated against the cuts, as did staff at Hope hospital in Salford.

Window posters throughout Wythenshawe, in shops, homes and workplaces, say: "Save our baby unit."

Manchester community mental health nurses lobbied the Trust and drove a cavalcade through town. Meetings of campaigns and 'consultations' have been packed. Reflecting this, several local newspapers have opposed cuts to services in their catchment area; the Salford Advertiser called a rally of several hundred people! In linking these many campaigns and events, an important role has been played by Greater Manchester Keep our NHS Public.

This enormous wave of anger might in the past have been sufficient to defeat individual cuts plans. Wythenshawe's mental health unit was saved after a massive campaign in which the Socialist Party played a key role. Several years ago, we gained Trafford maternity services a reprieve after intensive campaigning in the borough.

But now the bosses are trying to ignore the massive response and seem hell-bent on implementing every attack. This is because they are driven by central government's pro-privatisation agenda. Though mass anger is increasing as more cuts are announced, people are understandably wondering whether it is possible to stop this juggernaut. Manchester Socialist Party says it can be derailed completely, by building decisive mass action across the board.

Industrial action has been discussed already, for example among community mental health nurses. Talk of direct assaults on pay will intensify that. The most effective way to fight all the cuts and threats to our health service is mass action, including industrial action where necessary.

A national demonstration will be a great boost. Unity is strength: we urge all Manchester area campaigns, union branches, and individuals to affiliate to Greater Manchester Keep our NHS Public. Come to its next meeting, get involved and together we will build the decisive action necessary to save the NHS!

Greater Manchester Keep our NHS Public next meets on Thursday 18 January at 7.30pm, Friends meeting house, Mount St, Manchester.

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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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