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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 April 2017

Communities and health workers unite to resist cruel NHS cuts

Marching to save the NHS, 4.3.17, photo by Mary Finch

Marching to save the NHS, 4.3.17, photo by Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Brent Kennedy, Cumbria Health Campaigns Together

The Tories have already cut doctors, nurses, student nurses and 15,000 beds. Now the government intends a further £22 billion of cuts through its 'sustainability and transformation plans' (STPs).

Underlining these cuts, NHS England chief Simon Stevens wants to abandon waiting time targets for surgery. The British Medical Association said this shows the NHS is at "breaking point".

In my area, North Cumbria NHS Trust and ten others have just come out of special measures, yet this result of the staff's hard work is threatened again by STPs and locally through the misnamed 'Success Regime'.

All the trust's chief executive could offer the staff was years more blood, sweat and tears. But how much longer will these workers' nerves stand this extra strain? They need more resources and more staff now. But after seven years of wage freezes and caps, how can we recruit and retain doctors and nurses?

Meanwhile, more so-called 'bed blocking' will inevitably worsen as the Success Regime closes three 'cottage hospitals' and cuts up to 200 beds, and the Labour/Lib Dem-run county council closes 137 out of 257 care home beds. They are already blaming each other but working hand in glove.

Recently, our council health scrutiny committee met and voted to refer back to Jeremy Hunt, the government health secretary, proposals to close three hospitals, the Whitehaven paediatric unit and probably the Whitehaven consultant-led maternity unit after a year.

But after pressure from the 'clinical commissioning group' they rushed through a second vote and reversed their decision on hospitals and paediatrics.

Four councillors (three Labour) had gone home early (!) and enough others turned coat to betray the people they claim to represent. One of these was Gill Troughton, the Blairite opponent of Jeremy Corbyn, who unsurprisingly lost Labour the Copeland byelection.

We need more protests locally and nationally by health worker unions, NHS campaigners and the wider public to fight the cuts.

All the health and other public sector unions must organise and coordinate strike action to restore living standards, jobs and services.

Demonstrations, strikes and other forms of protest action would give organised expression to the deep mood of discontent against austerity and stop this weak, divided government in its tracks.

Save our NHS march and rally

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In The Socialist 5 April 2017:


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Communities and health workers unite to...resist cruel NHS cuts

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