Swansea ballot shows depth of support for NHS

SWANSEA SOCIALIST Party members, campaigning against the loss of
hospital beds, say the public are on our side after an informal ballot
held in the city centre on 29 April.

We staged the ballot at our regular Saturday stall in Oxford Street
and passing shoppers gave a massive ‘no’ to the plans of Swansea Local
Health Board and Swansea NHS Trust.

The ballot paper asked; a) do you agree with the proposal to shut
Fairwood Hospital? b) Do you agree with the proposal to close Ward 1 at
Hill House? And then c) Do you agree with the proposal to get rid of 230
beds in Swansea NHS Trust?

After an hour and a half, the votes were; a) Yes 1, No 177. For b) it
was Yes 1, No 178. And for c) it was Yes 2, No 179.

Dave Warren, one of the ballot organisers, said: "I attended the
official consultation meeting and managers from the Local Health Board
were trying to make out the people of Swansea were happy with what they
are doing.

"We wanted to show what people really think. If all the people of
Swansea were asked their opinions, the opposition to ward and hospital
closures would be overwhelming."

Stop ward cuts and closures

AS PART of our local election campaign the Socialist Party held a
meeting in Telegraph Hill ward in Lewisham to discuss the crisis in the
NHS, in particular cuts at Lewisham Hospital, where three wards are to
close because of a budget deficit.

Pete Redfarn

One of our councillors, Ian Page, told the meeting that hospitals
were subject to a "star rating" assessment, as were other public
services. This gave greatest weight to financial profitability.

Hospitals were penalised for failing to meet financial targets and
waiting time targets. They were forced to hive off 15% of elective
surgery to the private sector. In Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, pregnant
women have been asked £4,000 for a midwife throughout their labour.

The pharmaceutical industry is a major contributor to the NHS’s
costs. The ten leading pharmaceutical companies made as much profit as
the other 490 largest companies put together. They spend 21Ú2 times as
much on marketing as they do on research and development.

Socialist councillors Chris Flood and Ian Page put a motion to
Lewisham council in March saying the government should fund the deficit
but none of the other parties supported it.

However, because the hospital cuts were becoming an election issue,
Labour councillor Peggy Fitzsimmons called a committee meeting at short
notice for 24 April.