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NHS: Stop the Tory vandals
Elaine Brunskill, Socialist Party Northern secretary
The Tory plan to privatise the NHS via the back door has given way to smashing in via the main entrance.
Their next attack is NHS England's shadowy 'sustainability and trans-formation plans' (STPs). Under these ruthless schemes, the government aims to make a further £22 billion of NHS cuts by 2020, with dire consequences for patient care.
If you haven't heard of these proposals - don't be too hard on yourself. Despite their huge impact, a survey of 310 members of doctors' union BMA revealed a third had never heard of STPs.
Meanwhile, the NHS is still suffering from the hammer blows inflicted over 30 years by successive Tory and Labour governments.
The Guardian recently reported that seriously ill children were having to be transported long distances in order to receive intensive care. This included London where all the beds for paediatric intensive care across seven hospitals were full to capacity.
The number of patients waiting for over an hour for an ambulance to arrive has almost tripled over the last two years. And the nightmare isn't necessarily over once the ambulance turns up, as many patients have to wait for hours in the ambulance for beds to become available.
Undoubtedly this callous Tory government hopes the severity of the cuts will turn people against the NHS, making handing it to their big business friends seem the only option available. However, even with all its current problems, the NHS remains incredibly popular.
People understand that every local attack needs to be fought. Campaigns to save local services are springing up in towns and cities across Britain.
In Leicester, tens of thousands have signed a petition to save the Glenfield heart unit. Huddersfield's campaign to save its A&E organised a huge demo earlier this year. A campaign in North Tyneside against proposals to close walk-in centres is about to mushroom.
These local campaigns will be a springboard for the national 'It's Our NHS' demo on 4 March 2017 in London. Now is the time to fight and fight again!