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Grenfell Tower


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From: The Socialist issue 979, 24 January 2018: Socialist planning needed to end privatisation scam

Search site for keywords: The Socialist - Socialist - NHS - Construction - Government - Northern Ireland - Homes - Grenfell Tower - Belfast

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Forced out of the NHS

Marching to save the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

Marching to save the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

I work for the NHS. With only a 22.5-hours-a-week contract, I have to pick up extra hours from the 'bank' at the hospital. During recent months these have dwindled considerably.

I recently applied for bank work with a response centre. These centres answer calls from elderly and disabled people with alarms fitted in their homes.

Up until six months ago this service was manned by six to eight full-time staff. It is now manned by a skeleton staff, mostly lone workers, with the manager told she cannot appoint contract staff, only bank staff, until it can be sold off to a private company.

I love my job but cannot cope with the insecurity and am contemplating leaving the NHS.

NHS worker, Devon

Building regulations

In light of the Grenfell Tower disaster, with its tragic loss of human life, the focus has rightly turned to the adequacy of existing building regulations, particularly in relation to fire safety. We have also seen government repeatedly and mysteriously refuse to update these regulations in the light of incidents which exposed their shortcomings.

In addition, pressure groups such as the 'Red Tape Initiative' have plans post-Brexit to dismantle regulations on construction materials. A perhaps more worrying example of official reluctance to update regulations can be found in a Northern Ireland government-facilitated report, the 2016 Housing Supply Forum report, which recommends that "any further increase in building regulation requirements incurring additional build costs should be deferred until volumes have recovered significantly... Stability in regulations will help to control build costs, increase certainty, and facilitate increasing build volumes."

While the Grenfell inquiry will no doubt result in recommendations on the construction materials to be used in future, it is surely essential to take immediate action throughout the country to ensure that safety forms the basis of any building regulation, and doesn't become an option to be added when "volumes" - ie profits - are high.

George Dunn, Belfast Metropolitan Residents Group

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