Marching to save the NHS, 3.2.18, photo Mary Finch

Marching to save the NHS, 3.2.18, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The destructive privatisation of the NHS in Warrington and Halton continues at pace. The trust recently announced that 71 elective treatments, including surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and varicose veins, would no longer be available free to patients at the trust’s two hospitals.

Public outcry forced an immediate backtrack on the move. But to add insult to injury, the trust has also announced that urgent care services at Halton will be provided by a “preferred private bidder” rather than by the NHS.

12 months ago, a coalition of Socialist Party members, Momentum groups and other local people were accused by local councillors of “scare-mongering” when they protested about plans to privatise the hospitals. They have now been proven right.

Councillors arriving at a meeting of Halton Council’s health board were met by well attended and vociferous protest, with one Labour councillor being presented with an application form for the Tory party!

These changes to health care provision will cause immense harm and distress in these working-class communities, where people are already struggling to get by due to austerity, wage stagnation and rising rents.

Socialist Party members in the area stand ready to fight to save the NHS from privatisation and keep it free for all who need it, regardless of their ability to pay.

Ste Armstrong, Warrington and St Helens Socialist Party

Track record

Warrington and Halton NHS Trust had previously been caught attempting to charge for standard operations. 45 procedures had been made available on the trust website with prices ranging from £1,624 for a cataract operation to over £18,000 for knee and hip replacements.

The trust was forced to withdraw the list when faced with an outcry and admits that not a single ‘customer’ had signed up to pay for a procedure since the scheme was launched last year.

But this fiasco shows that trusts are itching to start charging for services that should be available on the NHS when patients need them.