Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/472/2011
Private hands off our health service
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.
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!
In The Socialist 1 February 2007:
Socialist Party news and analysis
War and terrorism
International socialist news and analysis