Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/779/17382
Save our NHS!
Kick out the corporate vultures
Chris Moore, Gloucestershire Socialist Party
In 2004 Tory cabinet minister Oliver Letwin boasted that "the NHS will not exist" within five years of a Conservative victory.
In April 2013, the Health and Social Care Act opened the floodgates to the private sector. Since then nearly 200 contracts, worth £2.5 billion, have been offered to outsource NHS services.
The NHS is set to become a US-style state subsidised private healthcare market. In the US, 62% of the 900,000 personal bankruptcies a year are due to medical expenses.
The Daily Mirror recently revealed that a contract for NHS brain cancer treatment was handed to the world's largest private hospital group, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), that just happened to be a Tory Party donor. HCA was part of the 'largest healthcare fraud' according to the US Justice Department and in Tennessee paid doctors to refer patients to their facilities.
'Conveniently' the government had just transferred responsibility for cancer care to NHS England.
Britain's top NHS brain cancer centre, University College Hospital London, was informed that it will no longer receive funding for NHS patients. Current patients are to be transferred to Barts Hospital, where HCA owns the Gamma Knife Centre.
Successive Tory, Labour and now Coalition governments have privatised and undermined the NHS. There is a scramble among the big health corporations to get their snouts in the trough.
Since 2001 the Tories have received donations of over £10 million from private healthcare companies. At a time of economic crisis, our illness and injury is a lucrative business.
While doors are opened for private companies at Barts Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust is loaded with PFI (private finance initiative) debts. Losing £2 million a week, it announced £77.5 million cuts, the biggest of any NHS trust.
A Care Quality Commission report, that identified 'systemic failings' at Whipps Cross Hospital (part of the Barts Trust), is being used to justify cuts and privatisation. Like the Mid Staffs crisis, where the management response to a £10 million deficit was to make hundreds of redundancies, increase the ratio of untrained staff and impose a bullying culture, the impact on the standard of care was devastating.
In April, 50,000 marched against the threat of closure to Stafford hospital, forcing management to backtrack. At Whipps Cross, the Unison health branch has called protests and is ready to call strike action if necessary.
Strike action by NHS staff at Mid Yorkshire Health Trust recently won important concessions on pay and redundancies. Mass action by the campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital, including a 25,000-strong demonstration and legal challenge, have thwarted health secretary Jeremy Hunt's plans to scrap A&E and other key hospital services.
Protests in Gloucestershire also held back NHS privatisation. Successful legal arguments were part of the campaign, but the government response was to change the law!
From the national demonstration in Manchester on 29 September, health unions should launch a national campaign to link up all the local NHS struggles, supporting all local strikes and preparing national industrial action.
Mass action, starting with a 24-hour general strike, is the way to challenge this government and secure the publicly funded and properly funded NHS we deserve.
Protest at the Tory Conference
SAVE OUR NHS
Defend Jobs and Services; No to Austerity
March and Rally - Sunday 29 September
Assemble at Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP, 11am
Marching to a rally in Whitworth Park
Defend all Barts health services and staff
- Protest: Monday 16 September, 5pm, Whipps Cross Hospital main gate
- Demonstrate: Saturday 21 September, 12noon, The Green by Whipps Cross Hospital (near roundabout bus stops), marching to Walthamstow town square
In The Socialist 11 September 2013:
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