The Socialist 21 September 2006 |
Join the Socialist
March to save the NHS
IS THERE no end to how far the government will go in dismantling the
National Health Service? Apparently not, if Patricia Hewitt's recent
speech to a 'think tank' is anything to go by. "There is no limit to the
involvement of the private sector in the NHS", she said.
So the closure of hospitals and up to 60 NHS departments, possible
cuts of 50% in emergency services around the country, are set to go
ahead. And now it seems with the support of leaders from the British
Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians. In a defeatist
statement to the Sunday press they said that, given the shortage of
junior doctors, they could see no other choice than to close hospital
What a scandalous climbdown. Rather than have a struggle with the
government for funding for more doctors, we just have to accept our
services cut back to the bone. According to James Johnson, head of the
British Medical Association, "we can't expect to have an all singing all
dancing teaching hospital at the end or every road".
We don't necessarily want one at the end of the road but we do want
to keep the ones we have. Patients and health workers are rightly
opposed to government policy of centralising hospital services in one
big 'multi centre', leaving whole communities, particularly in rural
areas, with no hospital at all and miles to travel to access health
These 'reconfigurations', the new by-word for cuts and closures, are
ideologically driven by a government which does not believe in public
services and is preparing the NHS for mass privatisation.
That's why the struggle to save the National Health Service is
urgent. If the trusts and PTCs get their way the closures planned will
be done and dusted by Christmas, with a new round of cuts planned for
the New Year in the run-up to the local elections. Demonstrations are
taking place around the country, ballots for industrial action over
redundancies are being held in a number of hospital trusts and NHS
Logistics workers are having two strikes just before and during Labour
Party conference when the NHS will be debated.
The TUC has called a national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 1
November, which health workers and campaigners need to build a mass
turnout for. A feeder march to the lobby will be organised by South
London Keep Our NHS Public (KONHSP) campaigners and they have invited
NHS Logistics workers to lead the march. Other campaigns around the
country and a number of trade unionists are supporting it (see list of
As one UNISON health branch chair said: "if it's just a lobby of
Parliament a few people will come down to see an MP who they know
already supports privatisation. But if there's a march, we will bring a
- Get your NHS campaign, trade union branch or organisation to come to
the TUC lobby of parliament and add their name to those supporting and
building for the feeder march.
Contact: email@example.com or phone 07765 848444 for
Those organisations and individuals (in a personal capacity)
supporting a feeder march to the lobby of parliament so far are:
Southwark KONHSP, Anita Downs UNISON shop steward Guys and St Thomas'
Hospital Trust, Len Hockey joint branch secretary Waltham Forest UNISON
health branch, Brian Loader NHS Logistics Alfreton Branch secretary,
North Staffordshire NHS SOS, Waltham Forest Save Our NHS, Huddersfield
Save our NHS, Medway Trades Council, Wakefield and Metropolitan District
KONHSP, Save Our Charing Cross Hospital Campaign, Adrian O'Malley, chair
and Mick Griffiths, secretary, Pinderfields' Hospital's Trust UNISON
health branch, Roger Davey, senior UNISON steward and branch chair
Swindon and Wilts Healthcare branch.