Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/170/7893
Public health not private profit
New labour's nhs plan announced 7,000 extra beds by 2004 of which 5,000 will be intermediate care beds. Yet health officials in North Staffordshire want to slash the number of long-stay hospital beds from 416 to 163 at seven elderly care hospitals in North Staffordshire.
Socialist Party member, Alan Holdaway told The Socialist: " Is this the real plan to scale down the hospitals by closures, and tendering out work to the private sector? The elderly have worked all their lives and have paid into the NHS. The NHS belongs to them.
"Now at their time of need , they are closing down long stay hospitals and pensioners are forced to sell their homes to pay for long-term health care or are forced into the private sector."
Elsewhere, health workers at Dudley Group of Hospitals are taking action against privatisation. From 15-18 of August, involving 600 staff. The mood is very confident with support from clinical staff and the general public. Local union branches are also giving support.
Workers are striking against the transfer of their jobs to the private sector under Private Finance Initiative (PFI). They are determined to keep their jobs under the NHS.
If they succeed, in forcing the trust to keep their jobs in the NHS, this could end the current PFI projects that are being proposed for the hospitals.
But when Blair claims that more money than ever is going in to the NHS, we ask, where is the money going? Despite Blair's talk of modernising the NHS, there are still cuts in wages and conditions, cuts in service provision and dirty, crumbling NHS buildings. Whipps Cross hospital in east London, is run by Forest Health Care Trust, whose chief executive earns £90,000 a year. Yet patients still wait eight hours in the casualty department and porters at the hospital have had their jobs privatised by multinational ISS Mediclean.
It's clear, whatever Blair says, any health system which allows private companies in to run services is always going to be run for profit.
The Socialist supports the Dudley hospital workers fighting to retain services and jobs in the NHS. We also campaign for a properly run NHS, under democratic workers control and management, under a socialist health system, where services are run for need not profit!
Demo for Dudley Strikers: Saturday 19th August, 11am, Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley
In The Socialist 18 August 2000: