Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/224/9197
Save The NHS: No To Privatisation
IN A move worthy of a sitcom plot, health secretary Alan Milburn has decided that the answer to declining resources and morale in the NHS is for top hospitals to play the stock market.
Rheian Davies, Registered Nurse
Mr. Milburn announced that the new powers would be given to the top 35 hospitals in his new league tables. Hospitals across the country have been given 0-5 stars. Creating a two-tier health service, the five-star hospitals will be able to bid for the no-star hospitals.
The hospitals with the worst rating match almost exactly with areas of economic deprivation. Poverty inevitably brings with it worse health, putting hospitals in poor areas under more pressure. Such hospitals find it more difficult to attract staff, making matters worse. Being labelled no-star will hardly help!
Milburn calls this a convenient excuse for problems. Instead of addressing poverty, instead of addressing staff shortages and providing more resources New Labour have decided that the no-star hospitals will be up for sale as franchises to the five star hospitals.
These are the same methods that McDonalds, who this year sponsored the Labour Party conference, use to run their fast food outlets.
Commenting on the stock market dive over the past three weeks, GMB union general secretary John Edmunds asked: "Where on earth has Alan Milburn been for the last two weeks? For ministers to urge hospitals to play the stock market at any time is bad enough but to do it at this of all times defies belief".
Unfortunately what defies belief even more is that GMB and UNISON unions have decided to suspend their campaign against privatisation in order not to embarrass New Labour in the wake of the American terror attacks.
This announcement shows that New Labour have no intention of suspending their plans to privatise the NHS. As representatives of big business, New Labour are cynically using the international crisis as an excuse to sack workers. If anything, they will accelerate their privatisation plans if the unions drop their opposition.
If Milburn wants to look at league tables he might reflect that the top forty dirtiest hospitals are all cleaned by private companies.
The trade unions must build opposition against New Labour's privatisation plans to save the national health service.
- Full public funding of the health service.
- Kick private companies out of the NHS.
- Scrap Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
Saturday 24 November,
University of London Union,
Malet Street, London WC1.
In The Socialist 5 October 2001: