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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2008

NHS in crisis

Plans 'unfit for purpose'?

'FIT FOR the future,' the government's plan for NHS services in North-east London, would be better entitled 'Unfit for purpose'! It will mean downsizing King George Hospital and possibly Whipps Cross Hospital, closing their Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments and moving them to a 'super-hospital' many miles away - the PFI-built Queens Hospital in Romford.

Dave Carr, east London

Local newspaper reports that King George's A&E department has been spared the axe are not true. At best the decision has been delayed. It is expected some time after March 2008 following a local consultation, ie a no-debate, slick, NHS management presentation in the affected boroughs.

The latest 'independent' clinical review of hospital services by Sir George Alberti is still pushing its 'option four', which means closing the A&E!

"Maintaining safe high quality services on three acute sites is not possible. No change is not an option", says the report.

A recently opened, private-profit making, Independent Sector Treatment Centre for elective surgery would remain at the King George site.

However, the report recognises the strength of feeling amongst the community against closure - a feeling articulated in east London Socialist Party's consistent campaigning over the last 18 months.

"The plans have caused major unrest amongst the public... centring on the fear of closure of an A&E department in either Whipps Cross or King George hospital.

"There is deep scepticism about the ability to cope and little belief that the proposed changes are for patient benefit rather than just a book-balancing exercise." (Review of clinical case for change)

But even before the health authorities finally announce their decision on these hospitals' future, cutbacks have already been made.

Last year a 'turnaround team' was sent into Whipps Cross hospital costing over 200,000. Hospital managers closed three wards, with a brief to axe around 450 jobs including nurses and doctors.


Mothers and babies at risk

THE CRISIS in the NHS, the staff shortages and pressures on budgets, are harming the health and welfare of pregnant women and their babies.

In the first review of maternity units in England, one in five of NHS Trusts was found to be putting mothers and babies at risk by failing to carry out scans, discharging them too quickly or failing to follow up with postnatal visits.

London's hospitals were rated worst in the country on issues such as tests during antenatal care and staffing levels on labour wards. Nationally, the survey found that, not surprisingly, Trusts with the lowest number of midwives performed worst.

Health secretary Alan Johnson promised that extra funding of 122 million annually would be available for maternity services. But this crisis highlights this government's real health priorities, such as encouraging privatisation and trying to get patients to use private hospitals.

From this April, for instance, patients will be able to choose to go to any private hospital that agrees to be paid NHS prices. The government has set aside 200 million in this year's NHS budget to pay for that option.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2008:

End this market madness

No more school closures!


Education

Teachers' union calls strike ballot on pay

Anti-war protests save teachers

Labour councillors anger parents and tenants


Socialist Party news and analysis

New Labour attacking our vital benefits

Incapacity benefit cuts hit the sick

Hain resigns but stink of sleaze remains


International socialist news and analysis

Jail break from Gaza

Suharto: "One of the 20th century's biggest killers and greatest thieves"

US elections: The Barak Obama mirage


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS in crisis


Debt and Housing Feature

Debt and housing slowdown threaten Britain's time bomb economy


Socialist Students

Student elections: Not just a 'beauty contest'!

College students seek socialist ideas

Reality of London students' debt trap

More foo than fight as rockers agree to cross picket line


Marxist analysis: history

How Hitler came to power


Global Warming

Global warming, climate change and human activities - Part 2


Socialist Party workplace news

Burslem postal workers march back to work

Giving the real facts on Burslem strike

National Shop Stewards Network meetings

Police march for pay

PCS suspends strikes


 

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Related links:

NHS:

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triangleNottingham hospital black alert

triangleTories raid 1bn from NHS facilities budget - unions must act

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triangleNorth London Socialist Party: Save our NHS - the lessons of the Barts strike

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triangleA day in the life of a midwife

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triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Fighting for women's rights around the world

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triangleNorthants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation

Nurses:

trianglePrivate profit out of our NHS

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