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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 August 2005

Patients before profits

No hospital closures

A QUARTER of NHS trusts are running deficits and ten of them are running a deficit of 10 million and more. The NHS inspectorate, the Health Commission, has just revealed these worrying figures.

Alec Thraves, Swansea Socialist Party

This is before the government fully implements its new "payment by results" NHS funding scheme.

Hospitals will have to provide care according to a fixed national tariff - and if they can't they'll be in more financial difficulty.

Already wards and hospitals are threatened with closure because of this financial crisis. Charing Cross hospital in west London is even being threatened with a sell-off to private health company BUPA. Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is promoting measures like this - she says she wants another 250,000 patients a year to be treated by the private sector.

In Wales, Swansea NHS trust is 7 million in the red. It wants to close wards in Morriston and Singleton hospitals and close or downgrade community hospitals at Fairwood and Gorseinon. 200 beds are under threat.

Whatever arguments trust managers use to justify these cuts, people signing the Socialist Party petition in the city centre ask: "How will 200 less beds benefit patients in Swansea?"

Dental services have also become a real pain - literally! Thousands of people across Wales cannot get access to an NHS dentist with many being forced to go private and others just suffering in agony.

Research by Swansea Citizens Advice Bureau has revealed that 86% of people surveyed couldn't find a local NHS dentist. As a result 70% went without treatment. Swansea CAB claims people living in the city's poorest areas are bearing the brunt of the shortage.

The NHS is supposed to be free and accessible to everyone but, increasingly, working-class people are being denied basic health care because Tony Blair and New Labour are downgrading and privatising our NHS.

After the privatisation of hospital cleaning, infections like MRSA have become rife throughout the health service. In Swansea, according to UNISON, there are now 50% less cleaners than there were ten years ago. Patients, the general public and the health unions need to unite to fight these attacks and ensure we get the health service we have paid and fought for over generations.

New Labour's market-driven NHS shouldn't be run as if it were a factory in the private sector where profit is the only motivation. It should be run on the founding principles of the health service where patients come before profits.

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In The Socialist 11 August 2005:

Defend democratic rights

Trade unions must mobilise against terrorism, racism and war

Dewsbury: Uniting and organising against racism

60 years after Hiroshima: Nuclear proliferation makes socialist change more urgent

Justice for Heathrow's Gate Gourmet workers

No hospital closures

Journalists on all-out strike

Firefighters defend life-saving services

Royal Mail announce redundancies

Northern Ireland after the IRA statement: Why the 'peace process' continues to flounder

Greek workers resist neo-liberal attacks

Union split reflects crisis in US labour


 

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