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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 March 2002

NHS Crisis

Underfunded, Understaffed, Under Threat

OVER THE past week Tony Blair and health secretary Alan Milburn have been preparing the way for tax rises in the coming budget to pay for increased funding of the national health service.

Jackie Grunsell, health worker

There's no doubt that the NHS desperately needs extra money, especially as we spend less in this country (as a percentage of gross domestic product - GDP) on the NHS than practically every other European country.

The announcement followed closely on new figures showing that the NHS is near breaking point. Emergency re-admissions are increasing. More beds are "blocked" by elderly patients who have finished their treatment but have nowhere to go for further rehabilitation before they can return home.

In addition there is growing unrest amongst health professionals who feel they are being constantly blamed for the failings of the NHS.

Blair and Milburn are most likely to get the increased income by raising National Insurance (NI) contributions. A rise from 10% to 11% would raise 3 billion, and a change to the upper earnings limit would raise another billion. This sounds great but it's still way short of what is needed.

As you'd expect Blair has ruled out a rise in the upper income tax bracket. This means, as usual, that the burden will fall upon those less able to afford it, whilst the super rich get off scot free!

If Labour was simply to reverse the tax cuts given to big corporations since they came to power, they could raise far more than expected from NI rises.

Of course Blair would not do anything that upsets big business. No doubt the rich would find ways of dodging any extra tax payments anyway.

All this is more evidence that the capitalist system puts profit before the needs of people. This system has to change before we can be guaranteed a democratically run, properly funded NHS.

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In The Socialist 1 March 2002:

NHS Crisis

No More War

Striking Against Low Pay On The Rail

Strike back at privateers

Students March Against Funding Nightmare

Bush Drives Tank Through Social Spending

Divisions open up in Israeli society


 

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