Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/558/6643
Darling's prescription... It's spend, spend, spend on the banks... but cuts, cuts, cuts for the NHS
WHILE THE government is bailing out failed banks to the tune of £500 billion, the Treasury is cutting back spending on NHS services by over £1 billion.
The scale of the cuts means that more NHS jobs will be axed, either through redundancies or freezing posts. In a labour-intensive service like the NHS this can only result in cuts in levels of care and service. As one health service finance director admitted: "If you don't make an appointment in time, people die".
As a result of previous cutbacks by NHS managers there is likely to be a £1.7 billion 'surplus' in NHS funds this year but the government will only allow health trusts to use £400 million of this surplus in 2009-10.
And to make matters worse the NHS won't get the full increase in resources promised by the government in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Last year, the Department of Health clawed back £870 million from primary care trusts (PCTs) by not increasing funding by the full amount. The department is likely to do the same for next year cutting a further £1 billion.
The policy director of the NHS confederation, Nigel Edwards, is acutely aware that these cutbacks are happening at a time when the banks are being rescued using public funds. He warned the government: "Any feeling that people have been top-sliced or raided will represent a potential loss of trust. Next time people are told to make a surplus, it will be less easy to persuade clinicians this is a good idea."
Most people will find it breathtaking that the government can raid funds from a health service already creaking under the strain of cutbacks and privatisation, in order to bail out the fat cats. It's like Robin Hood's motto in reverse - stealing from those in need and giving it to the richest.
But this inverted 'redistribution of wealth' comes as no surprise to the Socialist Party. We have continually warned that this pro-big business Labour government will try to make ordinary people pay for the failings of the bosses' 'casino' economy - a capitalist profit system driven by greed.
That is why we have consistently campaigned to stop the NHS cuts, and why our members working in the health service said no to a three-year government-imposed pay cutting deal, even though some trade union leaders recommended it.
The Socialist demands that the NHS is fully funded. Not a penny of the public's money should be taken out of health care in order to pay for the crisis in capitalism. Give health workers a living wage.
In The Socialist 25 November 2008:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party women
International socialist news and analysis