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From The Socialist newspaper, 29 November 2006

Ripping the heart out of the NHS

"THE OTHER day a district nurse, who had previously worked in our practice, came to me in tears. She is one of the most experienced, most dedicated women I have ever known. She's due to retire very soon and she can't wait to leave. She was upset because she couldn't give patients the service she felt they deserved."

Dr Jackie Grunsell, Socialist Party member and Huddersfield Save Our NHS councillor passionately exposed the effects of New Labour's health policies at one of the closing rallies at Socialism 2006.

"I think this government are ripping the heart out of the NHS by the way that they are treating the staff. But it's the staff's dedication which has made the NHS something everyone can be proud of.

"Now people like that district nurse can't wait to get out of the NHS - people who used to give their lives to providing a decent service.

"The district nurses in our area have just undergone major restructuring. The primary care trust is in deficit to the tune of 6.4 million, so the trust decided to employ management consultants to tell us how we should run the service.

"We've gone from 125 district nurses across the borough to just 100. And now they have to work differently. The most experienced staff have been told they have to spend 60% of their time doing administration, not in face-to-face contact with patients!

"A job advertised for a nurse in Barnsley recently had 1,500 applicants. So, in spite of the investment that has taken place, nurses are on the dole queue.

"The British healthcare system has been repeatedly subjected to market-driven reforms in the last 25 years. And that process has been accelerated by the party which set up the NHS - the Labour Party.

"New Labour's objective is to turn the NHS into nothing more than a brand name - a centralised fund that will commission services and not provide them.

"Billions of pounds are funnelled into contracts with private health providers, whilst NHS hospitals suffer large deficits and are forced to close beds. Just the administration of those 'reforms' has cost at least 12 billion. In the 1980s, 4% of the NHS budget was spent on administration. That has increased to 16% today. And that doesn't include all the money that is spent on management consultant fees, etc. That money is being diverted away from patient care and from staff.

"The private sector are cream-skimming the easiest, cheapest operations from the NHS. Despite that, on average it costs 11% more for an operation to be done in an independent sector treatment centre than on the NHS.

"This is part of the deliberate destabilisation of the health service to allow private companies to come in and buy parts of the NHS. The government have complete disregard of the effect that has on NHS staff and service users."

It is no wonder that a recent Mori poll has found only 19% of adults believe that the NHS will get better. 46% believe it will worsen. As all the speakers in the NHS SOS rally said - it's time to link all the campaigns to defend the NHS together.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 29 November 2006:

Ripping the heart out of the NHS

Socialism 2006

Socialism 2006: "A brilliant and inspiring experience"

A world in struggle

Youth rally: Socialist ideas are the future

Closing rally: How to defend the NHS

Socialism 2006 - an unmissable event!

Finance appeal - 30,873.44!

Workplace news and analysis

Vote 'yes' for national strike action

Fighting and striking, on all fronts

Glasgow council workers prepare to strike

Socialist Party news and analysis

Socialists fight Labour's attacks

Costs soar while communities ignored

Bosses' tax moans threaten cuts

Top cops say: "Protest but don't offend anyone"

International socialist news and analysis

Gemayel killing fuels political tensions

Gaza: How long will the ceasefire last?

Hundreds of thousands gather to inaugurate Lopez Obrador

Sri Lanka protest

Australia - Big increase in votes for Socialist Party in Richmond

Dutch Socialist Party makes sensational election gains

Socialist Party review

Leon Trotsky's Transitional Programme


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