Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/449/5357
West Mids march builds links
THEY CAME from all around the West Midlands as 150 people marched and rallied in Birmingham on 15 July. The march was organised by Staffordshire NHS SOS and the Socialist Party and 45 people came to the Socialist Party meeting afterwards to discuss linking campaigns regionally and nationally.
A contingent came from Nuneaton, where 700 people turned up last week at a Primary Care Trust consultation meeting proposing to close the town's special baby care unit. Workers came from the National Blood Service in Birmingham, which faces closure with the loss of 30 jobs.
Stone MSers from Staffordshire, a group of people with multiple sclerosis who campaign against the postcode lottery that denies them drugs to alleviate MS, were noisy and enthusiastic. There were campaigners from Worcestershire Keep Our Health Service Public campaign as well as NHS SOS.
Dr Jackie Grunsell, the Huddersfield Save Our Health Service campaign councillor spoke at the rally and the meeting. Jackie and Coventry Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist both spoke about the urgency of the campaign as attacks on the NHS deepen.
The NHS, Western Europe's most 'reformed' and market-oriented health service, is increasingly becoming a brand name buying in services from private companies. Labour say that they cannot give the NHS £600 million to pay off its deficits, but they agreed to give British Energy £5.1 billion in subsidies to balance its books.
Neil Stote, from Keep Our Health Service Public, said that the unions needed to support their workers. Andy Ford, an Amicus steward from the Blood Service said UNISON regional office had told their members not to come on the march because it was organised by the sort of people "we cannot be associated with."
The meeting agreed that the unions should urgently call a national demonstration to defend the NHS. They should be protecting their members' jobs rather than saving New Labour's face! Meanwhile the campaigns would network with each other, sharing information and ideas.
In The Socialist 20 July 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Scottish Socialist Party
Campaign for a New Workers Party