Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/526/3938
Save our hospitals!
HOSPITAL TRUST bosses in south east London have put forward a package of closures and severe cuts to services. 5,000 people recently protested against threats to Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup (see The Socialist 523). Another demonstration on 29 March will protest at threats to Lewisham Hospital's accident and emergency (A&E), acute surgery, maternity and children's in-patients departments.
Roger Shrives, Lewisham Socialist Party
The Picture of Health document proposes a series of options that could lead to the closure of one or more of four hospitals in Lewisham, Bromley, Woolwich and Sidcup and would hit services in all of them.
Far from having too many A&E units, attendances at south-east London's A&Es went up by 28% between 2002 and 2006. Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich would be expected to increase its emergency admissions by 40% under these plans even though it often diverts ambulances to Queen Mary's in Sidcup because of lack of beds!
These attacks are clearly designed to cut public spending and get private companies to profit from health services. A Picture of Health claims that south east London hospitals work at a £400,000 a week 'deficit'. But that's far less than the extra weekly costs of the private finance initiative (PFI) schemes at Lewisham and Bromley hospitals! These plans put private profit before local people's health.
Local pensioners' groups and other campaigners have been fighting NHS cuts for some years and aim to keep all hospitals and A&Es in the area open. But the forthcoming London mayoral and Assembly elections are leading mainstream politicians such as Lewisham's Labour mayor Sir Steve Bullock and Tory London mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson to say how much they want to save one or other hospital.
What we really need is a massive campaign to save all the hospitals and all the services they offer. If it is a question of money, then why not take action against the private contractors who make huge profits from NHS hospitals?
Bromley Hospital Trust has the highest deficit of any NHS trust in Britain, largely due to charges coming from the PFI scheme at Princess Royal hospital. Hospitals in Lewisham and Woolwich also have huge PFI bills.
This is destabilising NHS finances but making a fortune for some fat cat business people. We say cancel all these PFI contracts and end the process of privatisation and marketisation of services that is ruining the national health service across the country.
In The Socialist 25 March 2008:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party Marxist analysis