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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 December 2020

Maternity unit deaths - democratic, public ownership needed to ensure an accountable NHS

Save Stafford Hospital

Save Stafford Hospital   (Click to enlarge)

Jane Nellist, Coventry Socialist Party

The recently published Ockenden report into the deaths and serious injuries of mothers and babies at the maternity units in Shropshire and Telford Hospital NHS Trust exposes a very dark side of the lack of accountability in the NHS.

Credit must go to those parents who have fought tirelessly over many years to expose the hospital's failings at great cost to their own health and wellbeing, encouraging other families to speak out.

Although the report has only looked at 250 cases, the investigation has resulted in over 1,862 cases being exposed. An astonishing number of failures, have caused personal heartbreak and a total lack of confidence in a service which serves half-a-million people in a mainly rural area. It begs the question, why has it taken over two decades to expose what was happening?

Bosses shift blame

The 48-page report, which has taken over two years to compile, is horrific in its findings. Women and families have been ignored, brutalised, killed, and even falsely accused of damaging their babies in an attempt to shift blame.

The very clear report outlines nearly 30 'local learning actions' that must be introduced now, as well as seven 'immediate and essential actions'. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives have both called for all the findings to be acted upon immediately, by all maternity services.

It should never be allowed to happen: NHS bosses seek a cover up, go on to repeat mistakes over and over again, and ignore recommendations, causing more needless misery and heartache to many families over many years.

It is vital that there is a struggle to strengthen the trade unions in the health service, so that workers are in a position to be able to whistle-blow and suggest changes, without fear of victimisation or losing their jobs.

Accountability

There is no accountability of NHS services to the local community, except for a few Patient Participation Groups. The Socialist Party demands democratic accountability across the whole of the NHS. This means being accountable to service users, NHS workers through the health service trade unions, and the working class as a whole.

With the prospect of even more cuts, privatisation and rationalising services in the NHS, the issue of accountability is vital. Privatising health services makes them less accountable, and the drive for profit makes services less safe.

That's why the Socialist Party argues for the renationalisation of the whole of the NHS under democratic working-class control and management.

If the Ockenden Report highlights one thing, it's that these tragic events should have been exposed and acted upon a long time ago. Democratic, public ownership is the only way to make sure that the NHS stays true to its original intentions.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 16 December 2020:


News

Unemployment and Covid rising - the crisis is not over - Fight for jobs and safety

Mass testing - we need trade union oversight and full pay for all

Fight for NHS pay and funding

Rich countries hoarding vaccine is danger to us all

No to Tories' new anti-protest law

Maternity unit deaths - democratic, public ownership needed

Met police investigate British mercenary war crimes against Tamils

No surprise, poverty is rising


Education

Cancel exams for class of Covid

Welsh schools close for safety after union pressure

Effective testing and properly funded safety plan needed in schools

East London shows the way: strikes are how to fight for state education

Determined strikers at Leaways school


Workplace News

Openreach and EE: Massive vote for action

PCS union conference stripped of powers by NEC

Unite launch ballot over sacked London bus rep

Christmas redundancy shock at L&Q housing association

Stop 'fire and rehire' at British Gas


New Technology

Can green technology and AI save capitalism?


Engels

'Socialism - Utopian and Scientific' by Engels


Reports & campaigns

Protests in solidarity with Indian farmers

Book: The national question - a Marxist approach

School boy assaulted by police in Tottenham

TUSC relaunch in the north west

Protest against immigration enforcement centre in Newham

Tremendous fighting fund reflects confidence


Quiz

Quiz 2020


 

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