Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/160/7824
Revolt grows at Labour's health plans
THE GOVERNMENT are sending out 12 million leaflets this week, asking people what their top three priorities are for the NHS. They want us to think they have an open attitude to critical views of the NHS but the opposite is the case.
Numerous health workers have been disciplined for blowing the whistle on inadequacies in the NHS. Most notably Lord Winston, the famous fertility specialist, was recently given a rocket for saying the government's promise to end the internal market was "deceitful".
NHS trusts are being packed with New Labour acolytes. Can we be confident that they will listen to working-class people's priorities?
The government's promises of new money for the NHS look increasingly threadbare as each "injection of funds" turns out to be a recycled version of the last one.
Secretary of State Alan Milburn used to say that the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), introduced by the Tories, was "the only game in town" for building new hospitals.
But since its expense and inefficiency has been exposed, the propaganda has calmed down. "The government is not driven by dogma" the NHS website says "(PFI) will only be used in cases where it offers value for money to the taxpayer and the NHS". But no explanation is offered for this 'U' turn.
The revolt over Labour's 'modernisation' of the NHS is building. Already local referendums have rejected PFI, in the case of Wakefield hospitals. In Grantham a council-run poll got an overwhelming majority for a call for the resignation of local managers, after cuts to the mother-and-child services at Grantham hospital.
Ten of the 42 councillors, doctors and other health care workers, at Wyre Forest, Kidderminster have been elected from campaigns to save local NHS facilities.
These show Labour can be made to sit up and listen if mass campaigns are organised to rebuild the NHS as an excellent service, free to all at the point of need.
Our top priorities for the NHS:
§ To ensure that a massive injection of funding reduces waiting lists, improves care and treatment and pays all health workers a living wage with decent hours and conditions.
§ Kick private profit out of the NHS. Abolish the internal market, ditch PFI and run the NHS under democratic working-class control and management.
§ Nationalise the drug companies, again under working-class control and management, so their huge profits can be used for public health not private gain.
§ Eliminate poverty and inequality - the biggest killer and cause of ill-health.
In The Socialist 2 June 2000: