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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 April 2007

NHS in crisis

Nurses' fury at cuts and attacks on jobs

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

NURSES AND other workers in the National Health Service are angry at cuts in the NHS. According to a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) report, the vast majority (87%) of specialist nurses say NHS cuts are having an adverse effect on patient care.

Roger Shrives

The most striking part of the RCN report claimed that more than 22,300 jobs in the NHS have been lost in the last 18 months. Almost three-quarters of newly qualified nurses have so far been unable to find jobs. The government's so-called 'reforms' have produced massive debts and deficits totalling 1.32 billion. The financial crisis has forced community hospitals to close, especially in rural areas. It has hit patient services and lengthened waiting lists.

Of course the government says that the RCN are exaggerating - that only 1,446 workers have been made compulsorily redundant and that the NHS is employing more workers than under the Tories.

But the RCN figures tie in with the Office of National Statistics figures that show 11,000 fewer people working for the NHS in the last quarter of last year. It also fits in with NHS workers' experience that even experienced staff are being made redundant by cash-strapped trusts.

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

The RCN is calling for investment in the NHS to be increased up to the European spending average.

New Labour, however, has the nerve to ask low-paid NHS workers to pay with their living standards for Labour's policies. The independent review body originally offered them a pay rise of just 2.5%, itself way below inflation levels. But Gordon Brown has only agreed to give 1.5% in April with another 1% in November. This stinginess saved 60 million - a minute fraction of the 94 billion NHS budget.

With their jobs being made more fraught and less secure, it is no surprise that the RCN, an organisation that forbade industrial action until 1995, is now voting on whether to go on strike against this pay insult.

New Labour's 'reforms' have one clear purpose - to demolish the NHS and to build up a privatised health service with guaranteed profits for big business.

They are building up mass opposition that must be mobilised to save the NHS and to give health workers the rewards their dedication deserves.

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In The Socialist 19 April 2007:

Kick big business out of the NHS

Nurses' fury at cuts and attacks on jobs

NHS London - delivering private health


Socialist Students

Build for national action against fees


Socialist Party election campaign

Election manifesto 2007

Leicester: A principled stand against opportunists

Young socialist standing for Save Huddersfield NHS

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Save our NHS campaign fields five candidates in South Lakes

Nursery cuts campaign launch

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Vote Socialist Alternative on 3 May


Socialist Party editorial

RMT victory: Union militancy pays


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Wanted - a new mass party for workers

Campaign for a New Workers' Party Conference


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Tube workers win big victory over Metronet

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Young trade unionists reject New Labour

Greenwich UNISON steps up fight against pay cuts


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