NHS demonstration 30 June 2018, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration 30 June 2018, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Scott Jones

NHS services are showing the strain of cuts, privatisation and insufficient funding.

In England, expectant mothers have been turned away from maternity units due to a midwife shortage which the Royal College of Midwives has warned numbers 3,500. This meant that maternity units were forced to close 287 times last year.

It has also been revealed that between June 2017 and June 2018 ambulances from four health trusts have taken up to 24 hours to reach patients, with the worst example being recorded in Wales, where one patient waited 62 hours! The trusts claim that the longest waits were for “less serious calls” and that life-threatening or ‘urgent’ conditions were prioritised.

But why should ambulance services be forced into a position of leaving patients without care for a day or more? And why should some pregnant women face a lottery on whether they receive care or not when turning up to maternity units?

They shouldn’t. That’s why the Socialist Party campaigns each week, up and down the country, to save our NHS. And we can.

Workers have shown this at Chatsworth rehabilitation ward in Mansfield, which was saved from closure after trade union members fought back. Communities can play a vital part too, as demonstrated by the campaigns that saved Glenfield heart unit in Leicester and Huddersfield A&E. Socialist Party members played a leading role in all three.

We demand an end to all cuts and privatisation of the health service and fight for proper funding now. We need a huge movement to save our NHS, led by health workers and their trade unions, and bringing together community struggles and campaigns. These local victories show, where a lead is given, working class people are more than prepared to fight to defend the health service.

Health unions should be building for strike action, fighting to coordinate action across the NHS and to link up with workers across the public sector.

Jeremy Corbyn should also be calling for mass action to defend the NHS, and to fight to bring down this weak, divided Tory government, pledging to reverse privatisation, abolish private finance initiatives and secure the NHS for future generations.