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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 August 2006

Fighting to defend the health service

"The government will not get away with running down our NHS"

THE GOVERNMENT is hell-bent on slashing the National Health Service to the bone. Its attempt to protect the profits of its big-business friends means that the NHS must suffer. And it will be working class people who will suffer the most.

David Nicholson, the new NHS chief executive, has targeted east London, where ill-health and poverty are already endemic, for a new wave of cuts. One of the poorest boroughs in England, Tower Hamlets, is to suffer 2.5 million-worth of further cuts. And east London mental health trusts - often the poor relation of healthcare anyway - are being forced to hand back 1.4 million in surpluses which they were depending on for reinvestment.

But some of the lowest-paid hospital workers are fighting to defend their jobs, pay and conditions and community campaigns all over the country are refusing to take these cuts lying down.

The Save Huddersfield NHS campaign recently travelled down from Huddersfield to protest outside the Department of Health, before handing in a 40,000 strong petition into 10 Downing Street.

The campaign group, led by Socialist Party member Councillor Dr. Jackie Grunsell, has been fighting the proposed closure of St. Luke's Hospital and the transfer of other services to a PFI hospital in Halifax since August.

In the West Midlands a protest group has been formed after a well-attended public meeting against the run down of Nuneaton's George Eliot hospital.

A protest march has been organised for 17 August and other protests are planned in some of the many towns and villages served by 'the Eliot'.

The protest group has given out thousands of leaflets and posters across the area and is confident of adding to its growing list of volunteers. It hopes to escalate the campaign even further in the coming months.

Pete Bradley a campaign member said: "The people of this area are furious. If they take to the streets and get active in the campaign then we will save the Eliot. The government will not get away with running down our NHS by stealth."

And low-paid ancillary workers in Whipps Cross hospital, east London, will be on strike again on 14 and 15 August. Their employer, Rentokil/Initial has reneged on a pay deal won after a strike three years ago.

On the last strike days on 1 and 2 August, 220 out of the 240 UNISON members were on the picket line and even more workers joined the union. The hospital trust is trying to get ACAS involved to resolve the dispute, but as yet the company hasn't made an offer.

But the workers' mood is determined to take on the company and win their pay increase.

For details of the Eliot campaign, contact Vanessa on 02476 395040 / 07930 918075, Maurice 02476 341853, Pete 07704 375964.

If you want to get involved in defend the NHS campaigns in your area, ring 020 8988 8777.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 10 August 2006:

War and terrorism

Israel out of Lebanon now!

Afghanistan - NATO troops face a resurgent Taliban

Iraq - a country splitting along sectarian lines

Huge protest against the invasion of Lebanon

Police given licence to terrorise

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fighting to defend the health service

Socialist Party campaigns

Young = exploited

Tommy Sheridan's victory over News of the World

Sinking under a debt mountain

Socialist Party workplace news

DWP: Action gets results

Lincs firefighters fight cuts

Inspiring film of GAMA struggle


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