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Defend the NHS!: Fight the Con-Dem cuts
In his attempt to win support for the Con-Dem health bill, David Cameron was everywhere, rushing around TV and radio stations and newspaper offices, trying to defend the Con-Dems' plans to 'modernise' the NHS in England - straight back into the 1930s. Dave claimed widespread support for the proposals and that professionals are 'on board'.
But it is understood that what health minister Andrew Lansley has in mind is cuts, privatisation and the end of the NHS. It seems that the hundreds of thousands of pounds donated to the Tories by private health companies, such as the £21,000 from Care UK to fund Lansley's office when he was shadow health secretary, have had an impact!
The bill was backed by 321 to 235 at its second parliamentary reading but still has further stages to go. But polls show that less than one third of the rest of us are in favour and many NHS workers and their unions have spoken out in opposition. This opposition must be turned into action - on 26 March and through building a mass campaign to save the NHS. Here a mental health professional gives one example to show what health cuts will mean.
There is a great deal of anger among frontline workers and team managers about the scale and the pace of these swingeing cuts. Team managers are openly admitting that they don't know how they will organise things and support staff through these cuts. They state that 'structures are disappearing', 'there is nowhere to seek advice' and 'we are muddling through on our own and doing our best'.
In one small part of a south London NHS trust there is a very familiar pattern. The eating disorder rehabilitation service is to be shut down completely. This news came out of the blue to a very shocked group of staff and patients.
Staff described the speed and stealth of this decision and how they didn't even know what part of the consultation process they were in. They were also advised not to tell anyone outside of their service of the planned closure, leading them to believe that they didn't even have the right to contact their union.
These workers quickly came to the realisation that they had been duped and unfairly treated by trust management.
It was heartening to witness these brave women workers challenge the service director head-on during the consultation meeting.
The closure of this eating disorder rehab service is going ahead full steam in spite of the fact that there is evidence that when patients go through the doors of this service they completely recover and are never readmitted to in-patient services. It is well-documented that eating disorder patients have the highest mortality rates of all psychiatric patients.
But all of this has been entirely rejected by senior management who say they are shutting the service in spite of the 'very good outcomes'.
The directors also said to staff that it would be 'highly inappropriate' for them to meet with service users and carers to discuss their decision and there is 'no requirement' for the trust to do so. 'No decision about me without me' certainly doesn't seem to fit with the current realities of the way these NHS patients are being treated.
One service worker confided that she has experienced bullying and intimidation from the service director. The first time this happened she cried but the second time she stood her ground and defended her service. She has now put herself forward to be a Unison rep as she has lost any illusions previously held that the heads of this particular NHS Trust operate in a fair and just manner.
In The Socialist 2 February 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party Marxist analysis