No Way to Run the NHS

THE BRITISH Medical Association described the NHS as “in trouble and under pressure.” This is mainly because the New Labour government puts its faith in the private profit system.

Blair’s government says it’s trying to get 20,000 new nurses into training and it’s offering extra cash for senior nurses in London to help with accommodation.

But last week furious student nurses at St Bartholomew’s School of Nursing and Midwifery had to stage an overnight vigil outside the Department of Health.

They had been told that they would be evicted from their nurses’ hostel at St Andrews Hospital, Bromley by Bow on 31 March. The building is due to close to make way for new luxury flats!

The student nurses haven’t been offered suitable alternative accommodation, let alone luxury housing. They get a £470 a month bursary. Some may be offered a place with a housing association at £320 a month, twice their present rent.

Rachel Voller, a student nurse at Bart’s who’s campaigning against closure of St Andrews, told The Socialist: “We work 37.5 hours a week on the wards and receive the equivalent of £2.60 an hour. That’s below the minimum wage level. Now they’re making us homeless as well.”

On top of attending university, working 37.5-hour weeks on the wards, many student nurses also take part-time jobs. The college discourages students from doing this as it leaves them exhausted but they are desperate to make ends meet.

If these students have to find dearer accommodation, many more will have to find extra work to fund their training.

Rachel Voller commented: “Accommodation at St Andrews is far from perfect but it’s affordable. Many students now facing eviction will be forced to leave their course.”

This is no way to entice young people to join the NHS. In fact this is no way to run a health service.

We say:

Bring back the NHS, which provided health treatment free at the point of use.
Get rid of the profiteers who suck the NHS dry!
Take action against the property speculators who put private profit before housing for essential workers!