Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/457/5481
Marching to stop cuts and sell-offs
"A MATTER of Life and Death", handwritten on a placard. That summed up the message of the 30 September march and rally against the panic cuts and eventual downgrading of hospital services in Epsom, Surrey.
Nick Kirk Reading Socialist Party and Surrey County UNISON branch
A lack of stewards and a belated police presence forced 1,000 campaigners to march along the pavements from the busy town centre toward the General Hospital in Epsom.
Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust has approved plans to save £20 million over two years. It claims this will "improve services" at the two hospitals in Surrey. Some changes involve shuffling appointments between hospitals whilst other measures will cut provision for mothers requiring emergency treatment mid-labour.
Epsom has been repeatedly threatened with the downgrading of its A&E service over the past three years, but strong opposition has until now delayed the bureaucrats' cull.
At the post-march rally Geoff Martin of London Health Emergency (LHE) spoke against the Trust's dangerous plan. Kevin O'Brien, branch secretary of the local UNISON Health branch, vowed to lead a fight against the cuts, which include the reduction of staff. Local Tory MP Chris Grayling will lead a letter-writing campaign!
Socialist Party members from Reading branch and Surrey sold ten papers and handed out leaflets advertising our local meeting of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP).
lEPSOM Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) meeting. Thursday 12 October, 7.30pm, Spa Lounge of the Ebbisham Centre, Derby Square (off High Street), Epsom, Surrey. Contact: Nick 07767 023846.
KIRKLEES COUNCIL'S official policy is now to support any industrial action taken by health workers in defence of jobs and services. They also officially agreed to call on the government to cancel the deficit in the NHS.
The council agreed to this position because of the pressure that the Save Huddersfield NHS campaign has been able to mount upon local councillors. This meant they felt compelled to support the motion taken to the council meeting by Save Huddersfield NHS councillor and Socialist Party member Dr. Jackie Grunsell.
But the campaign isn't prepared to rest on its laurels yet, there's the small matter of saving the local hospital services that the local Primary Care Trust (PCT) decided to cut undemocratically after a phoney consultation, in the face of massive public opposition.
An 'Independent Reconfiguration Panel' has not yet reported on the fate of local consultant-led maternity services, but the campaign is not prepared to stop at just saving one service, we're campaigning for all the services to stay.
In addition to the transfer of consultant-led maternity services, general planned surgery, gynaecological surgery and breast surgery and the closure of St. Luke's Hospital, the trust has further proposed the closure of Princess Royal Hospital, selling off public land at Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, cuts in district nursing and health visitors staffing levels, cuts in the primary care prescribing budget and more.
Save Huddersfield NHS is calling its fourth demonstration on 7 October to oppose the endless cuts the local PCT tell us we have to endure. We call upon all workers to come and support the demonstration.
In The Socialist 5 October 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns