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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 February 2007

Private hands off our health service

Whipps Cross health workers protest

THIS WEEK, the Association of Directors of Public Health floated the idea of the NHS charging for 'non-essential' surgery. This would include operations to remove tonsils and cataracts. Those unable to pay would have to wait until their life was threatened before qualifying for surgery.

Leah Jones

Although this proposal has been turned down for the moment it graphically illustrates the direction the health service is travelling in.

Government health spending is at an 'all time high', however, we should not assume that this money will go to improving the NHS.

The Department of Health refuses to reveal how much money it is paying individual private sector treatment centres that are profiteering out of the NHS. Deficits are escalating in many NHS hospitals.

Scandalously, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has sent its staff a letter asking them to work unpaid for a day, take six months unpaid leave, take voluntary redundancy or delay taking five days of their holiday until next year to help balance its books!

Attacks on health care provision have continued all over the country. West Wiltshire Primary Care Trust has recommended the closure of almost all local services, while in Manchester, 250 mental health care workers are taking strike action in defence of jobs and to prevent privatisation of their service.

Strike action has won health struggles before. For example, last year striking ancillary staff at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London won their fight for the implementation of a previously won pay deal, better sick pay, annual leave and London weighting.

The fight has continued, however, with local campaigners and hospital workers now taking to the streets again around Whipps to protect their hospital from further cuts and possible closure.

It is vital to continue to build campaigns to save local health services, but this needs to be combined with a national campaign to protect the NHS from profit-hungry private companies and their friends in Westminster who are handing it over to them.

It is estimated that the Private Finance Initiative introduced by New Labour has already put 58 billion in the hands of private companies in exchange for 8 billion of investment.

The Socialist Party is continuing to campaign for a national demonstration and industrial action by the health trade unions, to protect the NHS. We need a fully publicly funded and run health service, which caters for the needs of local communities and we are prepared to fight for it!

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In The Socialist 1 February 2007:

Private hands off our health service

NHS: Protests must reflect people's anger

NHS union attacked in Brighton


Workplace news

Striking for jobs and services

BA bosses make concessions


Socialist Students

Mass action can defeat fees

Building for the protests


Socialist Party news and analysis

Gay adoption: Christian hierarchy attacks equal rights

Reid's prison disaster

Review: Silent Accomplice


Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein's major U-turn


War and terrorism

Iraq - build for 24 February demo

Lewisham leads the way


International socialist news and analysis

CWI rally: An inspiring international meeting

CWI World Congress: Building the forces of socialism worldwide

Sri Lanka: Defend socialists under attack

Bolivia: Mass protests demand right-wing Prefect's resignation


Workplace news

Power industry: Fight this victimisation

Sacked electricians fight on

BP condemned over safety standards

Support the Unique Care workers

Southampton care workers on strike

National meeting on Single Status


 

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