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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2014

NHS in crisis: Stop Hunt's hospital closure plans

Andy Bentley

Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt's decision to dissolve Mid Staffs Health Trust has taken a long time - but it comes as no shock.

The announcement has probably been timed to aid the government's plan to speed up the provision of rich pickings for the private vultures circling the NHS.

After campaigners' court victory against the closure of Lewisham Hospital's A&E, the government is using the announcement about Mid Staffs to rake up all the old discredited media attacks on health workers.

This is designed as a smokescreen to help rush an amendment to the Care Bill through Parliament. Dubbed the 'Hospital Closure Clause', if passed, it will allow the fast-track closure or privatisation of hospitals in as little as 40 days.

But, despite NHS workers at Stafford being pilloried relentlessly by the mass media and political leaders of all three parties for their 'failures' at Stafford hospital, the responsibility for any failures is to be found elsewhere.

To become a Foundation Trust in 2005, Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust needed to comply with financial targets set by the then Labour government.

It had to 'overcome' a debt of 10 million while forking out more money on a private finance initiative (PFI) deal to build a new entrance.

This was paid for with 160 job losses in 2006 on top of the 100 that had already been cut. But this 'successful' outcome for the Labour government and financial rulers proved to be a disaster for some patients.

It's clear that the government learned a valuable lesson from the 50,000 who marched in Stafford against the attacks on Stafford Hospital last April.

Through their rapidly moving amendment to the Care Bill they want to prevent this type of opposition on the streets again.


Health trade unions and health campaigners also need to draw the necessary lessons from the Stafford march.

Firstly, it confirmed that a massive accumulated anger exists at the attacks on the NHS by this and the previous Labour government.

Secondly, it also clearly demonstrated that a plan of action, drawn up by the health trade unions and local communities to carry out an organised campaign against the dismantling and privatisation of the NHS, including strike action if necessary, would receive the support of millions across Britain.

It would have the potential to stop the privatisation juggernaut in its tracks and herald the end of this government even before the next general election.

It would also be a warning to any incoming government to keep their hands off the NHS.

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In The Socialist 5 March 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Pay us a living wage now!

Need for new mass workers' party is undeniable

Government condemns millions to housing misery

NHS in crisis: Stop Hunt's hospital closure plans

Fight the government's vicious sanctions regime

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Ukraine crisis: Ruling elites foster division and conflict

Northern Ireland rocked by 'on the runs' crisis

International Women's Day

The miners' strike changed women's lives

Socialist Party workplace news

Determined Doncaster care workers in 7-day strike

Wales: Unison branch challenges Labour with no-cuts budget

Support strike action against legal aid cuts

Leeds council workers discuss cuts fightback

Train drivers vote for action at Northern Rail

Cleaners strike at London college

Readers' comments and reviews

Nigeria's battle for a mass workers' party

Letter of protest to the BBC

Union question time - Labour has no answers

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Action against vicious council cuts

Police spying ends lives - end it!

Fighting youth low pay (and security bullies)

Calderdale and Huddersfield: People ready to defend A&Es

Barton Moss protesters say no to fracking

Oppose the EDL in Worcester


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