Stop these drastic hospital cuts

WHEN LEEDS Socialist Party were campaigning against health service
cuts, a nurse came up to our stall and told us that staffing levels were
at danger level. Last December, when she was eight months pregnant, this
nurse was told to do a night shift looking after a ward with 20

Alan Turner, Leeds Socialist Party

There is a major crisis at Leeds NHS Trust, one of Europe’s biggest
teaching hospitals. The latest sign of this is the recent announcement
that 640 jobs will go.

Staff recruitment is to be frozen and all staff except consultants
could be asked to change their jobs.

Such drastic measures are meant to cut a projected £6 million

The background to this crisis goes back to October 2004 when the
trust announced a deficit of £16 million.

To reduce this deficit they closed three wards at Leeds General
Infirmary and five at St James Hospital, with all staff recruitment
frozen. In fact, around 200 beds have been lost in the Leeds NHS Trust
in the last year alone and morale amongst staff is very low.

A knock-on effect is that newly qualified nurses training at Leeds
University have been unable to find jobs.

Then in July 2005 Dr Tony Chapman, the Clinical Director of
Radiology, resigned because he was: "no longer able to operate in
an environment of financial anarchy".

A leaked letter from Dr Chapman said: "A decision has been made
to reduce staff and equipment in radiology until such a time as
radiology can no longer offer a service that copes with demand."

The trust was studying proposals to lose 55 radiology jobs to try to
save £2.4 million.

There has never before been a health crisis like this one in Leeds
and with New Labour opening up the NHS to plunder by the private sector,
we can only expect it to get worse.

All over the country, there are campaigns to stop the cuts in
hospitals and to save the NHS.

They should unite together, fight for a national demonstration and
build support for industrial action against the cuts.

What we say

  • End privatisation. Bring all health care into one nationally
    planned and properly financed service.
  • Nationalise the pharmaceutical industry, the pharmacy chains and
    medical supply industry and integrate them into a democratically
    controlled NHS.
  • Abandon the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). No more
    profiteering by building companies and banks. Fund new hospital
    building programmes with public money, using direct labour.
  • Unite the campaigns to defend the NHS – for a national
    demonstration to build support for industrial action.