Health Campaigns Together annual general meeting success

Save our NHS, photo Mary Finch

Save our NHS, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The Health Campaigns Together (HCT) Annual General Meeting began with a victory. After seven long years, both Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals have been kept open.

But there were no illusions among local campaigners who spoke. There are more cuts coming down the line threatening other local services.

Labour shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, also addressed the meeting. The NHS now has 100,000 staff vacancies, has lost 1,000 GPs since 2015, and 200,000 nurses have quit since 2011.

Jonathan Ashworth called for the repeal of the Tory Health and Social Care Act, which has paved the way for privatisation, renationalisation of the NHS, an end to PFI and the restoration of the nurses’ bursary. He pledged to plough more money into the NHS, starting with an immediate injection of £7 billion, and an end to the social care crisis.

A series of questions were put to Ashworth, which exposed the inadequacy of council funding for social care and the legal complications of scrapping PFI, which he was unable to fully answer.

It is clear that, in the event of a Jeremy Corbyn government, the workers’ movement will have to pressure the front bench to stick to these manifesto commitments and to address the serious underfunding of the NHS.

HCT’s profile was enhanced by their role in coordinating the historic 2017 march and demonstration in London, attended by 250,000 people. HCT now has 140 union and campaign group affiliations, including 62 trade union bodies.

A number of national and regional conferences are planned with the support of NHS unions. HCT will go to union conferences to attract more support and affiliations.

New officers were elected for the next year, including Socialist Party member Mike Forster, as chair of HCT. Around 40 delegates attended the meeting and ten delegates bought copies of the Socialist.