NHS   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

‘Harriet Ryman’, NHS nurse

A document leaked to the Guardian has revealed that cuts and austerity are not over following the general election. NHS England and other bosses on six-figure salaries are secretly meeting with the government behind closed doors to plan an unprecedented attack on some of London’s’ world-renowned teaching hospitals. Great Ormond Street and University College London are in the firing line for cuts.

NHS England (which manages the NHS budget) is urging NHS trusts across four north London boroughs to ‘think the unthinkable’ in a drive to implement a ‘capped expenditure process’ which is code for brutal cuts. Ten affected hospital trusts are expected to make cuts in the next few months in order to plug a £183 million funding shortfall.

What this will mean for 1.44 million users who will end up locked out of accessing NHS care, is pain, suffering and premature death.

The cuts will tie in with the Tories’ ideological agenda of eroding the fundamental human right to free healthcare by forcing desperate people to consider taking out private health insurance to get necessary care.

Unaccountable bureaucrats in NHS England and NHS Improvement (which oversees trusts and outside providers) recognise that their proposed cuts will be unpopular and difficult to explain. Therefore there will be no public consultation or full and frank public debate.

The Royal College of Surgeons correctly points out that the cuts will have a “devastating” impact on patients and will cost more in the long run.

Health workers know that timely intervention is a key principle in recovery. People who are suffering conditions that might quickly have been rectified to the benefit of that person and wider society will have to wait longer for treatments, worsening the prognosis and increasing the chances they will suffer severe and enduring disability.

These cuts are not inevitable and can be stopped. The trade union movement must seek to unite and lead all ‘save our NHS’ campaigns to effectively resist these life-threatening cuts.

The NHS trade unions would get mass public support if they planned and coordinated a bold, united programme of militant action in order to defend a healthcare system that is still renowned for excellence and efficiency in spite of decades of assaults on it by the private sector.