The Socialist 16 November 2011
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Wales: Fight the NHS cuts
A recent opinion poll shows clear opposition to Welsh Labour's plans to cut hospitals in Wales - despite health bosses claiming that the poll supports their plans to downgrade general hospitals in Wales.
According to the poll 61% said they did not "mind travelling for specialist care if it means the care will be higher quality". The Welsh NHS confederation director, Helen Birtwhistle, claimed this meant support for their idea of downgrading hospitals by shifting services from local general hospitals to regional centres.
And what specialist services? The public probably has in mind very select services like neurology. But the Welsh health minister, Lesley Griffiths, and the NHS bosses want basic services such as cardiology and maternity, which they deem 'specialist', removed from district hospitals forcing patients to travel long distances.
The real feelings of the majority can be seen in the response to another question in the poll; 59% believe their local hospital should provide every type of service.
Welsh Labour is desperately trying to spin a recent YouGov opinion poll to support their hospital downgrading programme, but public opposition is shown on the BBC Wales website that reports how Labour backbench assembly members (AMs) are lobbying Wales first minister Carwyn Jones to drop the plans.
Despite all their protestations to the contrary, NHS bosses' plans are largely about cuts. This was admitted by one of the foremost advocates of these changes, Marcus Longley from the University of Glamorgan, who said the NHS bosses had to "persuade the public that this was not about merely saving money".
The cutting of hospital services is an attempt to provide lower quality health treatment on the cheap. Socialists would support more community-based treatment if it is properly funded and in place before hospital reconfiguration, with no job losses. The hospital services could then be reconfigured if and after demand for hospital services fell.
Instead, reconfiguration plans will follow the fate of the under-funded care in the community mental health, where vulnerable patients have been left isolated.
Already the NHS is struggling before the cuts kick in. In September, 33,312 people in Wales had been waiting for six months or more for hospital treatment. This figure is set to soar as the cuts begin to bite and services are cut.
As Socialist Party Wales has explained, there is no way that working people in Wales will accept the cuts to the NHS or Labour's hospital downgrading plan, which was rejected at the polls in 2007.
Across Wales, the Socialist Party is campaigning against NHS cuts and to save hospital services from being 'reconfigured', ie cut. Hundreds of health workers have told us of the widespread health cuts happening and thousands have signed our petitions.
In this issue
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
The Socialist - Readers' comments