Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/469/1945
Labour to savage NHS jobs
Build for 3 March national NHS demo
A LEAKED document from the Department of Health reveals that New Labour is considering more savage cuts to the NHS that go way beyond anything most anti-cuts campaigners anticipated. An incredible 37,000 more jobs are threatened!
Yet because of major cuts in training budgets, the NHS is already predicted to be short of 14,000 nurses, 1,200 GPs and 1,100 junior hospital staff by 2011. And the Department of Health has calculated that a 7% increase in the health service workforce is needed in the next financial year if their '18-week waiting-time target' (ie from GP referral to the start of treatment) is to be met.
In an attempt to 'balance the books' they also want to tear up national contracts on pay and conditions, slashing pay for nurses and other staff in regions where average pay is already low, and bringing in temporary contracts wherever possible. Proposals for a three-year pay deal with a below-inflation increase in the first year and the creation of a new lower-paid grade of 'consultant' are included in the leaked papers.
This dossier, if implemented, will be a full-frontal attack on the rights and conditions of NHS staff. No wonder that the health department policy-drafters also mention "a real danger of industrial unrest" in their proposals.
Recent announcements in Greater Manchester show the effects of the government's onslaught to date. NHS bosses wished the conurbation a merry Christmas by devastating maternity and neo-natal care.
A month later, their happy New Year message is to slash A&E and emergency surgery services. Unprecedented in their scale and pace, these attacks will be a disaster for Manchester and the surrounding areas.
The newly-merged Manchester Trust structure will continue trying to set one area against another. Hospitals which now seem safe, such as Tameside, are being prepared for more privatisation - and will face further overcrowding as service cuts kick in elsewhere. In this situation, a 'not in my back yard' approach would be disastrous.
But this is precisely the stance taken by government minister Hazel Blears, who is Salford's MP and New Labour's national chairperson. There was an outcry after she had the nerve to join a demonstration against the closure of Salford Hope hospital's maternity services, while supporting New Labour's overall savaging of the NHS!
The colossal response to health service cuts has involved over one-in-ten of the 3.2 million Greater Manchester population - at meetings, in writing, signing petitions, and so on. This is the largest ever local response of its kind.
To strengthen the many anti-cuts campaigns, unity is central. Health activists and several union branches in Manchester have already enthusiastically backed the call for a national demonstration on 3 March and many more will do so.
A national demonstration on that day, if built for in every area of the country, would be a massive show of opposition to New Labour's health agenda. Join the campaign to build for it, and help to stop the destruction of our health service!
- Stop the NHS cuts. No to health privatisation.
- Bring the NHS into public ownership and rebuild it as a publicly funded service free at the point of use, with immediate cash to end the under-funding crisis.
In The Socialist 11 January 2007:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Violence against women
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news