NHS protest. Photo: Mary Finch
NHS protest. Photo: Mary Finch

Vote Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Mark O’Connor, NHS worker and Watford Socialist Party

Short of staff and underpaid, the experience of working in the NHS currently is depressing.

Many of my colleagues are forced to rely on our trust’s own food bank to make wages stretch. Years of inadequate ‘pay rises’ have led many to take out payday loans and skip meals to feed their children. Sickness due to stress and a dramatic rise in staff turnover is the outcome. All this affects patients too.

Third-party profiteers are draining the lifeblood out of our NHS. Morale is at an all-time low. Some staff are considering a move to the private sector for a better work-life balance.

Many choose to stay out of loyalty to the founding principles of the NHS – being free at the point of use for all, care based on need.

Profiteering bosses

The rot is deep. Private company GSK charges the NHS almost £5 for a small bottle of Lucozade you can buy for less than £2 at any corner shop. There are huge profits for multinationals providing ancillary services, while their staff earn barely above the minimum wage. Not to mention the top-down bureaucratic management, with many senior positions being filled by those from a private health or finance experience.

Trashing our NHS for the benefit of the bosses is what you would expect from the Tories. But Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting plans more private involvement when Labour comes into office. The last Labour government drenched the NHS with debt to the benefit of profiteers through PFI schemes and kept Margaret Thatcher’s wretched ‘internal market’.

People have asked me: “What’s the point in voting, they’re all the same?”

That’s why I’m standing as a TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) candidate in the local elections; to put forward an alternative to constant underfunding and cuts; to fight for fully funded healthcare, explaining that housing and public transport can be paid for by kicking out the parasites and profiteers – directing resources to where they are needed most, all under democratic workers’ control.

279 TUSC candidates are standing across the country in the local elections. We need more workers prepared to take a stand, to call for a new party that will represent us, not the needs of shareholders, big business or private interest at our expense.