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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 April 2007

NHS in crisis

Nurses' fury at cuts and attacks on jobs

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

NURSES AND other workers in the National Health Service are angry at cuts in the NHS. According to a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) report, the vast majority (87%) of specialist nurses say NHS cuts are having an adverse effect on patient care.

Roger Shrives

The most striking part of the RCN report claimed that more than 22,300 jobs in the NHS have been lost in the last 18 months. Almost three-quarters of newly qualified nurses have so far been unable to find jobs. The government's so-called 'reforms' have produced massive debts and deficits totalling 1.32 billion. The financial crisis has forced community hospitals to close, especially in rural areas. It has hit patient services and lengthened waiting lists.

Of course the government says that the RCN are exaggerating - that only 1,446 workers have been made compulsorily redundant and that the NHS is employing more workers than under the Tories.

But the RCN figures tie in with the Office of National Statistics figures that show 11,000 fewer people working for the NHS in the last quarter of last year. It also fits in with NHS workers' experience that even experienced staff are being made redundant by cash-strapped trusts.

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

Unison and RCN lobby of parliament in 2006, photo Paul Mattsson

The RCN is calling for investment in the NHS to be increased up to the European spending average.

New Labour, however, has the nerve to ask low-paid NHS workers to pay with their living standards for Labour's policies. The independent review body originally offered them a pay rise of just 2.5%, itself way below inflation levels. But Gordon Brown has only agreed to give 1.5% in April with another 1% in November. This stinginess saved 60 million - a minute fraction of the 94 billion NHS budget.

With their jobs being made more fraught and less secure, it is no surprise that the RCN, an organisation that forbade industrial action until 1995, is now voting on whether to go on strike against this pay insult.

New Labour's 'reforms' have one clear purpose - to demolish the NHS and to build up a privatised health service with guaranteed profits for big business.

They are building up mass opposition that must be mobilised to save the NHS and to give health workers the rewards their dedication deserves.

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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 19 April 2007:

Kick big business out of the NHS

Nurses' fury at cuts and attacks on jobs

NHS London - delivering private health

Socialist Students

Build for national action against fees

Socialist Party election campaign

Election manifesto 2007

Leicester: A principled stand against opportunists

Young socialist standing for Save Huddersfield NHS

Wales manifesto launch

Save our NHS campaign fields five candidates in South Lakes

Nursery cuts campaign launch

Making a difference in Lincoln

Vote Socialist Alternative on 3 May

Socialist Party editorial

RMT victory: Union militancy pays

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Wanted - a new mass party for workers

Campaign for a New Workers' Party Conference

Socialist Party workplace news

Tube workers win big victory over Metronet

Campaigning for a 26,000 minimum wage

Young trade unionists reject New Labour

Greenwich UNISON steps up fight against pay cuts

International socialist news and analysis

Venezuela: Will the trade unions give up their independence?

Bush's man at the World Bank in corruption scandal

Socialist Party news and analysis

Bosses' Pension

Blockading Britain's warhead factory

Fighting for the right to walk in the countryside

Cuts reduce advice for the people who most need help

Bank that only serves the rich


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