Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/456/5466
On the march to save the NHS
AROUND 3,000 people marched through Nottingham on 23 September, voicing their anger at huge cuts being made to hospital services throughout the East Midlands.
Jean Thorpe Nottingham
These include £60 million and 1,200 jobs going just at the hospitals in Nottingham. As the march went through the town centre, dozens of cars and buses beeped in support. This was Nottingham's biggest march for years.
Speakers at the rally outlined the terrible impact of the cuts on patient care as the Nottingham University Hospital Trust tries to wipe out in one year, a deficit that was accumulated over many years.
However, the official union line from UNISON and the RCN appeared to be to get the deficit payments slowed down instead of implementing them just in one year. This would presumably still involve cuts but just at a slower rate. Socialist Party members emphasised the need to fight, including for the cancellation of all NHS debts.
BETWEEN 5,000 and 7,000 people marched along Hastings seafront on 20 September to protest against the threat of cuts to services at the Conquest Hospital. As the local Labour MP put it, this was the biggest protest seen in the town since the poll tax (which he apparently didn't attend at the time!).
As with virtually all NHS trusts in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the local trust is heavily in deficit and has already cut 250 jobs at the Conquest to try to balance the accounts. Further cuts are now proposed at both Eastbourne and Hastings, claiming 'overprovision' of services in the area, and several departments at the Conquest, including maternity, are facing closure.
The protest was angry and lively, with the mention of Patricia Hewitt's name leading to the loudest booing and hissing. However, none of the speakers addressed the key issues. The Hastings Observer, which called the rally, ensured that no trade unionist or socialist spoke from the platform, even though many trade unionists were on the march.
As a result issues - such as the government's programme of privatisation and forcing hospitals to compete with one another - were not addressed. There was also political opportunism, the Observer having clear pro-Tory sympathies, and with a significant contingent on the march being clearly Conservative supporters.
As Hastings council has reverted to Tory control, and with the seat likely to go the same way at the next general election, no questions were raised as to how that party would improve the NHS. However, some of those on the march were more interested in genuine solutions and many copies of the socialist were sold.
0OVER 100 people demonstrated against the proposed health cuts in Leamington. The rally, organised by UNISON, heard speakers from the community including trade unionists, nurses and local politicians who were angry about the proposed cuts to Warwick Hospital.
Karen Scarrott, a cardiac nurse and former campaigner for the Labour Party, was seething in her condemnation of the Labour party over the NHS cuts. She said she "couldn't believe what the Labour Party were doing to the NHS." She urged everyone to "support their local hospital and support it strongly!"
Jane Nellist, Coventry
In The Socialist 28 September 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis