THERE WERE more protests last weekend as thousands took to the streets yet again to save our National Health Service. 7,000 people marched in Haywards Heath, outraged at the prospect of losing their local hospital. At the same time other protesters marched in nearby Brighton, also fearful of their local hospital closing. Other protests took place in towns like Oxford and Leicester.
The nationwide revolt continues. Up to 30 community hospitals are threatened with closure, usually to be replaced by one regional super-hospital. This would mean patients having to travel miles to access health care.
And more cuts are planned nationally. The Health Commission’s report of 570 NHS trusts around the country deliberately paints a bleak picture of hospitals in a dire state of financial mismanagement and demands that they balance their books.
Balancing books, as we all know, means making cuts, closing departments and sacking staff to save money.
There’s no attempt to examine why hospitals are running up deficits or have financial problems. There’s no mention of hospitals and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) being ripped off due to paying for PFI privatisation measures or spending thousands of pounds needlessly on consultants who are paid to implement market reforms.
But the campaign to stop cuts and closures is gathering momentum and confidence. Health workers at the North Staffs University Hospital voted 70% in favour of some form of industrial action and 50% in favour of a full strike against compulsory redundancies.
Demonstrations and meetings are planned all over the country in the next week including in Nuneaton, Ipswich, Sheffield, Guildford, Worthing and Wiltshire.
Many new trade union branches and health campaigns are sponsoring the march to the TUC lobby of parliament on 1 November. Transport has been booked from Huddersfield, Sheffield, Wakefield, Leicester, Wiltshire, Coventry, Stoke, Nuneaton, London and the South East.
The government ‘reconfigurations’, to use their euphemism for cuts and closures, mean a smaller, more market-driven and in the long run, privately owned health care system.
We are fighting for the opposite: a publicly owned and planned national health service, fully funded to meet the needs of patients and communities in every part of the country.
For a start, ending privatisation and nationalising the drugs industry and medical supplies industry, would save billions of pounds that could be used to rebuild the NHS.
Join your local campaign and help build the national fight back. Make sure you’re on the demonstration and lobby of parliament on 1 November.
The 1 November march will assemble at 11.30am in Forum Magnum Square, London SE1 on London’s South Bank. It will go across Westminster Bridge, to join the TUC lobby of parliament.