National Health Service in crisis!

  • Stop the destruction of the NHS in east London!
  • No cuts at Whipps Cross, Barts, Newham and the Royal London
Socialist Party members in east London

A major campaign to defend the NHS is needed in east London, as it is in many parts of the country. Privatisation and cuts threaten Barts Health Trust, which includes Whipps Cross, Barts, Newham and the Royal London hospitals, forming Britain’s biggest NHS hospital trust.

Barts has announced it is losing £2 million a week and plans severe cuts at all the hospitals, especially at Whipps Cross, to avoid going into administration. The Trust is making the biggest cuts in the NHS, with £30 million cuts this year alone.

It is saddled with a massive PFI (private finance initiative) deal to rebuild the old Royal London. These cuts are due to the greed of private companies that suck the lifeblood out of the NHS.

They are also part of the Con-Dems’ plans to sell off the NHS and make massive cuts to all our public services, to pay for a crisis caused by bankers and bosses.

Part of the reason for the dogged drive to privatisation of the NHS, which clearly opens the door to disaster, is in order to provide new and profitable fields of investment for big business in this time of ongoing economic crisis. Another hint is the over £10 million in donations from companies profiting from private healthcare that the Tories have received since 2001.

The cuts must be fought! Why should working people across east London – workers in and users of the NHS – pay such a terrible price for the failures and the greed of the rich and big business?

Workers at Whipps Cross hospital have a proud record of standing up and fighting and winning.

Whipps Cross Unison branch is calling a public meeting and demonstration, and wants to work with the unions across all the hospitals to build a united campaign.

Attack on the union

The Waltham Forest Guardian reports that: “Charlotte Monro, chairperson for Unison’s Waltham Forest health branch at the Leytonstone hospital, has been barred from representing members at a Barts Health Trust staff consultative group pending an investigation into her trade union activity.”

It also reported a Unison spokesperson saying that “Ms Monro is the public service union’s main link to the trust-wide body for the branch at Whipps Cross and barring her from attending disenfranchises members at the hospital.”

Hospital workers and trade unionists who speak out to defend public services must be defended – an attack on one key figure is an attack on the whole union and the campaign.

The whole community should get behind the campaign of the workforce in the hospitals. The Unsion branch at the hospital has a very good record of resisting attacks on members and of defending workers’ rights by organising determined campaigns, involving wide sections of the workforce and including strike action.

Demonstrations and other protests will all be important to bring together the community, NHS users, and the workforce to fight the latest attacks and to prepare for further threats. It is the workers in the hospital and the union branch who ultimately have the power to take decisive action, including strike action, which, with the community behind them, could beat these cuts back.

Socialist Party members, who work at Whipps Cross and are campaigning across east London, are pointing to the need to link up this struggle with all those against the cuts and to support the NSSN lobby of the TUC to call a 24-hour general strike.

Several hospital workers from the area are planning to stand as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in next May’s local elections to provide a political voice that stands up for the NHS.

To get involved in the campaign and for details of meetings and protests, email [email protected]

No cuts in the health service

  • Kick big business out of the NHS:
  • Cancel privatisation and outsourcing contracts – reintegrate all health services back into the NHS
  • All hospitals to be fully run and funded by the NHS
  • Adequate staffing levels to provide good quality care for all patients. Decent pay and conditions for all staff
  • Health service unions to organise industrial action to defend every part of the NHS

111 emergency

The NHS non-emergency phone line – 111 – is in crisis after NHS Direct decided to pull out of the contracts it holds (threatening the service in a quarter of areas). Why the sudden cold feet? Well, it has become ‘financially unsustainable’ to continue providing the service on the current contract. Which might have something to do with the fact that NHS Direct massively under-bid for the project, promising it would only cost £7 a call. The actual figure has been much higher, leaving NHS Direct in the red and the service worse than shoddy. So much for the benefits of competition.

Out to tender

£5 billion worth of NHS contracts are going out to tender. These include 160 large-scale contracts and seven worth over £100 million. Private sector vultures are swarming round the bidding process, in what has been described as “an arms race”, recognising this huge outsourcing of public services as one of the only ways to make a profit in the current economic situation. This tendering represents a major shift in how the NHS operates and the likely devastating effects will be seen over the coming years.

Serco scandal…again

One company very interested in the latest round of privatisation in the NHS is Serco. Serco already runs out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall – which suffered massive failings and a “culture of lying and cheating” within a couple of years of takeover – and community health services in Suffolk. They have a hand on every area of public services in fact – the prisons where they keep prisoners locked up all day, the tagging where they overcharge the government by millions. You’d think these success stories would be enough to put a stop to it but Serco is now going after a £1 billion contract for health services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Stafford A&E

The A&E at Stafford hospital is to be permanently closed after years of scandal, criticism and uncertainty. Hundreds of patients are thought to have needlessly died as a result of failings at the hospital over a number of years. But is taking away emergency care from the town really the solution? Local people certainly don’t seem to think so – 30,000 marched in defence of the hospital in April this year. Patients will now have to travel to Stoke or Wolverhampton in an emergency.

Needed: a strategy to stop the destruction of the NHS. A collection of articles from the Socialist

£2 including postage
Available from Socialist Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD,

020 8988 8789

National Shop Stewards Network NHS bulletin number 3

Includes articles on Whipps Cross, Wales, Mid Staffs and building for a 24-hour general strike

See or email [email protected]