Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/450/5380
Physios protest at lack of jobs
LAST WEEK 600 Gloucestershire health campaigners, including a nine-month old baby and a grandma of 82, boarded the Save Our NHS special train heading for London. They went to lobby MPs about the scandal of nine hospitals, 500 jobs, 240 beds (out of 1,600) and an ambulance station facing the axe.
Chris Moore, Stroud
Two hospital workers explained: "Managers walk around with pieces of paper, we don't see them doing anything. They have secret meetings. But nobody knows about our jobs or redundancies. We're on £6.20 an hour while the head of the PCT (Primary Care Trust) is on £120,000." Gloucestershire PCTs are desperate to claw back a £45 million deficit.
As soon as we reached Westminster we heard the chants of 500 physiotherapists from around Britain demonstrating about a lack of jobs. Newly qualified Isabelle Dorkas, from Brighton, described the situation. "2,500 physios graduated this year, but only a few hundred got jobs. Because of debts, hospitals are on recruitment freezes.
"They pay £29,000 to get us through university because of the shortage of physios and the massive waiting lists. We're £6,000 in debt. But for every job there are 300 to 500 applicants." The situation will become increasingly serious because after a year these qualifications start to become obsolete. A similar situation faces other newly qualified health staff.
4,000 march in Cheltenham
A FEW days later Gloucestershire campaigners joined a demo of 4,000 in Cheltenham, organised by Unison. Health workers and campaigners marched together. At the rally campaigners who'd struggled for 30 months to save their children's ward in Cheltenham said how they'd been lied to and cheated.
After saying the ward would not be closed health bosses then did an about-face. But local activists are still fighting. A Labour MP said the problem was down to local PCT's and a Tory MP tried to claim the NHS would be safe in their hands. But most health workers and campaigners were not fooled.
Labour introduced the Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) that are sucking our NHS dry and in a few months time most NHS contracts will be available to the private sector. The Tories started the process of privatisation and will step it up if they get to power.
At a Socialist Party meeting after the demo, a mental health worker said how the majority on his ward were prepared to take strike action if that's what it took to save the NHS. This kind of determination needs to be shown by the heads of the health workers' trade unions. They could start by naming a date for a national demonstration.
Healthworkers suffer 'Vacancy Control'
"ROLL ON the day when our hospitals have the resources they need and the Army runs a jumble sale to buy a missile," said Jon Smith, GMB trade union branch secretary at Sheffield Children's Hospital, speaking at the Socialist Party's public Defend the NHS meeting.
Jon said his Trust was making £9 million cuts over the next three years - city-wide the cuts will be over £100 million. Through the euphemism of "Vacancy Control" the Children's Hospital will lose 150 jobs. And those left will have to pay more for car-parking, canteen prices and nursery places to make up these "savings".
What's angered workers even more is that Trust bosses are set to employ a new Human Resources manager (on £40K circa) to make sure they're sacking people properly!
Well-attended union meetings at the Children's Hospital have supported a joint union proposal to call a Sheffield demonstration against the cuts. As Jon said "If we don't make a stand now, we won't have an NHS in two years time!"
Student nurse, Ian Birkinshaw, said 150 of his class-mates had put in job applications to Sheffield Teaching Hospitals but 100 wouldn't get jobs. As well as the waste of care and skills, the £3 million plus cost of training these nurses was being poured down the drain as well.
Dr Jackie Grunsell, councillor for Save Huddersfield NHS campaign, said we had to force the union leaders to call a national demo to unite all NHS workers and local NHS campaigns. Her election victory showed how working-class people from all communities would support a real fighting alternative to the mainstream parties of cuts and privatisation.
In The Socialist 27 July 2006:
Invasion of Lebanon
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns