Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/200/8458
After the suits had gone....
NORTHWICK PARK hospital, Harrow, has just completed a £3.9 million refurbishment to its accident and emergency department. It looks great - there's more space, it's much cleaner and there's four extra emergency beds.
Steve Harbord, UNISON rep, Kenton ambulance station
Instead of the old system of carrying equipment between beds as needed, each bed has its own ECG to measure heart rhythm and pulseoximeter to measure pulse and oxygen levels in the blood.
The waiting room has a new wide-screen TV costing £1,500 and has been fully refurbished. Reception staff have new uniforms.
A manager told me how wonderful everything would now be. After listening to his sales talk for a while, I asked how many extra staff will there be? He looked at me as if I was mad and spluttered: "That's irrelevant".
Come opening day, after the suits had their walkabout, ambulances are waiting up to an hour with patients on their vehicles because of a lack of staff and beds. The minor injuries unit was overflowing with a six-hour wait to see a doctor. But look on the bright side, they'd a nice new tele to watch.
Sometimes you feel like shaking these people into the real world. Investing in new equipment is fine but we have to invest in people too. More staff, much better paid with more leave and less hours would relieve the mounting stress within the NHS and reduce sickness.
NHS management know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. We can afford better health care - Britain's a rich country but its richest 5% have been soaking up that wealth at the expense of the rest.
It's time for democratic socialist change, so that we workers control our own destiny.
That would make overpaid bureaucrats 'irrelevant' in a society run by the majority for the benefit of all.
In The Socialist 6 April 2001: