The Socialist 10 October 2012
Tories promise more pain ... Kick out the 'nasty party'!
Save East Midlands ambulances
Andrew Walton, Unison rep, personal capacity
Our local ambulances carry the slogan: "Arriva, in partnership with the NHS". Has the bus company generously lent the NHS some vehicles? No.
Arriva has bought out the East Midlands non-emergency ambulance service, undercutting the 'in-house' bid, but only by assuming that there will be 35% fewer ambulance journeys than at present.
What's left of the NHS ambulance service helps people across the East Midlands. The plans are to cut back 66 NHS ambulance stations to just 13.
Closing all stations in villages and remote areas will mean much longer journey times to reach a hospital for anyone not living in a city.
This plan is being 'consulted on', but this is just a tick-box exercise, not democracy. People are given no real option; NHS bosses know cutting services is deeply unpopular.
These cuts show the real priorities of a market-driven, privatised health system. Today, NHS Trusts have to compete with the lowest bidder and patient care is less of a priority than breaking even in order to attain Foundation Trust status which, like "Partnership", is a code word for privatisation.
After a successful public meeting against NHS cuts, we decided to lobby the consultation meetings. But the health unions should be taking action over this attack, including looking to ballot for industrial action.
This is not an easy option for workers in an emergency service but the unacceptable alternative is to see ambulance services decimated and sold off.
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