Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/450/5378
Resistance grows to NHS cuts and closures
THE EFFECTS of the financial 'crisis' in the National Health Service are meeting resistance nationwide. Campaigns are being built against closures of hospitals and wards, against job cuts and service reductions.
DAVE GRIFFITHS reports from Nuneaton on the angry response to threats to accident and emergency (A&E) cover and other services.
A WAVE of anger has swept across Nuneaton and surrounding areas as health bosses seek to reduce A&E cover to just day-time, weekday services, to close its baby unit and children's ward.
The wave of anger is becoming a wave of resistance. Around 600 people turned up to Primary Care Trust (PCT) 'consultation' meetings, to try and use force of argument to persuade bosses to drop their plans. But they soon found that 'consultation' just means bosses telling people what they already intend to do.
So instead of a 'fob off' meeting, members of Coventry & Warwickshire's NHS-SOS decided to organise a 'fight back' meeting. Many people have said we need a town march to protest. So this week's meeting intends to give people the chance to organise that.
Socialist Party members took to the streets to build the campaign. In three hours on 22 July, they collected 1,400 signatures and raised hundreds of pounds towards the campaign.
Vanessa Casey, out campaigning for the first time, said the cuts had "shocked" her. "I was seriously ill when I had a child, if I'd had to move I might not have made it." She was confident of a great response to a meeting and protest march. "I've been in Nuneaton many years, and it's the first time I've seen where everybody wants the same thing."
All campaigners were clear that what is needed is the biggest possible expression of opposition by the areas' people. They are confident of organising that - and soon!
The former Mayor of Nuneaton, Pete Bradley, who recently joined the Socialist Party said he expected a big meeting. However, he is wary of local Labour MPs who have mouthed their opposition.
"Everybody's support to save our hospital is welcome and needed," said Pete. "But the MPs must have known this was coming for a long time. Why wait to say something? Why not warn the town so we could plan a campaign to save our services? I think they want to distance themselves from the cuts because they're scared of a 'Kidderminster effect' where they lose seats to health campaigners.
"It's Blue Labour's (Pete's reference to New Labour) cuts and privatisation policies in the NHS that were the last straw for me. My decision to leave Labour, join the Socialists and fight back was the best decision I've made."
In The Socialist 27 July 2006:
Invasion of Lebanon
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns