Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/495/2616
Action needed to save the NHS
HOSPITAL CAMPAIGNERS People United Saving Hospitals (PUSH) organised protests on 5 July, the 59th anniversary of the national health service. They intend to make sure the NHS reaches its 60th birthday without any more cuts, closures or privatisations.
VANESSA GEE, national chair of PUSH, told the socialist: "We handed in eight letters from health campaigners to the department of health, protesting at cuts in places like Oxford, Kendal, Nuneaton, etc.
"By chance, we met Ben Bradshaw, a minister under Alan Johnson, Brown's health secretary. We told him we had written to ask for meetings with his predecessor Patricia Hewitt. She had never replied but merely redirected letters to the local hospital that campaigners had written to a hundred times!
"We asked him what he thought about Gordon Brown's speech at prime minister's question time where he said the NHS would be one of his 'main priorities'. We asked what he meant by priority. Was it just changing policies a bit and re-arranging the figures? Or did he mean he'd stop attacking and privatising our NHS? Ben Bradshaw could not comment.
"PUSH now wants a meeting with Alan Johnson. Any hospital campaign groups that want to can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for the attention of Alan Johnson, explaining what their local issues are and requesting a meeting with him.
"We can then hand in these letters to the Department of Health. PUSH will keep a log of all letters going to Johnson and whether we get a reply. We'll be naming and shaming government figures! Then we need to make sure that it's not just words, that real changes are coming."
THERE HAVE been some brilliant local health service victories, such as that in Swansea (see right) where campaigners have been willing to fight. However, a national struggle is still vital, preferably led by the trade unions. But if the union leaders continue to delay on organising such a campaign, Keep Our NHS Public (KONHSP) along with PUSH, need to do so.
We urgently need a programme of national activity - which aims to give leadership to the disparate local campaigns - and escalates action at each stage in the run-up to the UNISON union's proposed demonstration on 13 October and after it.
In The Socialist 12 July 2007:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Tales from the council chambers
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party events
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis