The Socialist 8 August 2018 |
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Pamphlet: If we fight, we can win!
A must-read for anyone fighting NHS cuts
Glenfield demo, 11 Feb 2017, photo Pete Watson (Click to enlarge)
Andrew Bromhall, NHS nurse, Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party
It was with great pleasure and admiration that I recently read the pamphlet published by the East Midlands region of the Socialist Party to celebrate their recent successes in fighting cuts and closures within the NHS.
Written by Tom Barker and Steve Score from Leicester, and Jon Dale from Mansfield, the pamphlet details the fights Socialist Party members helped to lead against the closure of essential NHS resources.
It is an example of determined campaigning by committed and effective Socialist Party branches, and is a must-read for anyone involved in the fight against cuts.
I will not go into any great detail regarding the individual campaigns. To do so would detract for the reader when they come to this excellent and very well-written account of working class struggle.
The first part of 'If we fight, we can win!' is an introduction to the present crisis in the NHS. Particularly, the underfunding which has led to the present shortage of frontline staff, and also Theresa May's much-hyped £20 billion "70th birthday present" to the NHS - which has come after seven years of cuts.
It outlines the reasons that a mass fightback is needed to save the NHS - with the examples of the recent victories.
The pamphlet then goes on to the campaign in Leicester to save Glenfield children's heart centre. Its closure was not suggested by the local hospital trust or clinical commissioning group, but by the Tory government via the bosses of NHS England.
The trust itself even opposed the closure - and not a single local politician would admit to supporting the decision, due to its unpopularity.
Readers learn how the campaign was built, with the mass involvement of the public in meetings and demonstrations, supported by more modern techniques including social media.
The importance of the role of the Socialist Party and local trade unions, particularly general union Unite, is made clear.
NHS England's decision to keep Glenfield children's heart centre was announced in December 2017 as a result of the campaign.
The pamphlet then looks at the Chatsworth neurorehabilitation ward at Mansfield Community Hospital, and the seven months of struggle to save it from closure.
It details the importance of effective campaigning. By the staff and patients at local level; by the Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network at a national level; and also with support from members of parliament in Ireland and councillors in Sweden and the US in the Socialist Party's international sister parties. It all helped give campaigners the much-needed solidarity and profile to carry on.
It must be said at this point, however, that although the majority of members on the ward belong to public service union Unison, there was anger at the initial response from right-wing Unison officers who did not seem to want to fight for the ward.
Despite setbacks and threats of disciplinary action, and due to the brave and valiant actions of the campaigners, the local NHS trust decided to cancel plans to close the ward in February 2018.
The pamphlet concludes with a section on a socialist programme to save the NHS.
It discusses the role the organised working class must take if we are to defend the NHS from the threat of continued privatisation and outsourcing, pressed by Tories and Blairites alike.
It also outlines the fightback needed in order to secure an NHS which is fully publicly owned and funded and fully free at the point of use.
- 'If we fight, we can win!' - lessons from two NHS campaign victories, East Midlands Socialist Party - £2 from leftbooks.co.uk