Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/414/4702
Don't let Blair wreck hospitals and schools
BLAIR'S GOVERNMENT is destroying our public services. As our reports from Yorkshire and London show our NHS and our schools are more and more being handed over to fat-cat business people to make a profit out of ill-health and education.
Instead of well-funded, planned and democratically accountable services, we are getting the anarchy of the 'free market'. The cutbacks and chaos which this causes are making people angry and determined to fight back.
HUDDERSFIELD PEOPLE are outraged by proposals for far-reaching changes to local hospital services that are about saving money not saving lives.
The plans will mean the closure, and transfer to Halifax, of paediatric wards, gynaecology wards and the loss of consultant-led maternity services with only midwife-led provision at the local infirmary.
All planned orthopaedic and general surgery will be done in Halifax with only emergency surgery provided locally. A local hospital providing in- and out-patient care for those with mental health problems, and for the elderly is to be closed, and services moved to various sites both within and outside of the town.
There are also plans to cut ambulance services locally. These proposals ignited a furious response from staff and public.
Dr JACKIE GRUNSELL, a local GP, opposes the cuts: "These plans will hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Minutes matter in emergencies when a woman is in labour or children are acutely ill. Transferring them to the neighbouring town in these situations will cost lives.
"This move is part of New Labour's plans nationally, to centralise NHS services and sell them off to private companies. There will be fewer children's beds under the proposals, with cystic fibrosis and epilepsy sufferers having to travel as far as Bradford and Leeds without the guarantee of transport provision.
"Elderly people will be forced to travel farther for hip replacements and other operations. Yet the trust insists this will result in a better service! Better for the shareholders of corporations taking over the running of our NHS and profiting from ill health maybe.
"We have set up a 'Save our NHS' campaign. This has the support of midwives and ambulance workers who say they have not been consulted over the changes and feel they put patients at risk. The campaign plans a ballot on the proposals in the town centre this Saturday, asking the public to vote on the issues.
"People are already ringing up to say they've copied and distributed our leaflets and collected hundreds of signatures on petitions. A public meeting is planned for 23 November at Huddersfield town hall with plans for a demonstration in December.
"If the anger expressed so far is transformed into action we can stop these attacks taking place."
In The Socialist 3 November 2005: