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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 June 2018

Stop the Tory NHS wreckers

Marching to save the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

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

Matt Whale, NHS nurse

The official NHS England budget deficit is almost £1 billion - with some analysts putting the real figure closer to £4 billion. The ongoing NHS crisis shows no sign of slowing down.

Increased waiting times, chronic understaffing, underinvestment, privatisation, rock-bottom staff morale, and retention figures through the floor point only one way.

As a nurse, I see every day the struggles facing NHS staff, and the impact that has on patients. The staffing crisis results in skeleton services, nurses moved on a daily basis to cover gaps across hospitals, and unsafe numbers on wards.

'NHS Improvement' reports NHS England is £960 million in the red - or four times that according to the Nuffield Trust thinktank. And we are officially short around 35,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors.

These deficits and the crisis in the health service are no accident. Our NHS celebrates its 70th birthday this year, but it's an anniversary the Tories, Blairites and capitalist class never wanted to reach.

It was only the struggle of working people, the trade unionists and socialists of yesteryear, that forced capitalism to grant the concession of a National Health Service. Since its conception, profit-hungry big businesses and politicians have chipped away at the jewel in the crown of Britain's working class.

Underfunding and cuts by successive Tory and Labour governments - coupled with the disaster of privatisation schemes like 'PFI' and the EU-backed 'internal market' - have left the NHS in a financial hole.

PFI schemes in particular have crippled the NHS. It sums up the insanity of capitalism that on the one hand you have brand new hospital wards - but on the other, because of austerity and these rip-off PFI contracts, trusts can't afford to staff and use them.

But all is not lost. NHS workers are prepared to fight for our futures and our patients. The historic junior doctors' strike in 2016 showed us a glimpse of the potential the NHS workforce has if the unions choose to lead a fight.

The number of local NHS disputes and strikes popping up is increasing. Alongside this are the fantastic victories by grassroots campaigns against NHS closures - including at Glenfield, Chatsworth and Huddersfield, where the Socialist Party played a leading role.

What we need is national action from our trade union leaders. Building for serious, coordinated industrial action could do more than stop the cuts - it could easily end the Tory government.

The Tories, Blairites and capitalist class want to see the NHS broken up and sold to privateers like Virgin Care to run our services for profits, not patients.

Jeremy Corbyn should use the 70th anniversary demonstration on 30 June to renew and extend his calls to nationalise privately run services and invest in our NHS. But he should also make it a launchpad for action: build for mass demonstrations in support of coordinated strike action to get the Tories out!

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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 6 June 2018:

Labour and the unions

RMT rejects Labour affiliation - now step up the fight for workers' political representation

RMT special conference debates political strategy

Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the Tory NHS wreckers

#NorthernFail: 250 rail services cancelled

Socialists defend Lush ad campaign against spy cops

International socialist news and analysis

Italy's political crisis is reverberating through Europe

No to Trump's trade war

Jordan: Workers and youth remove prime minister and demand end to austerity

Workplace news

Congress shut down by staff walkouts

PCS union launches strike ballot on pay

West Midlands firefighters vote to strike in massive numbers

East London housing workers fight privatisation of pay

'Made in Dagenham' strike 50 years on

'Made in Dagenham' Ford machinists pay strike 50 years on

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Liverpool meeting remembers 47 councillors who fought and defeated Thatcher in 1980s

Yorkshire 1,000 for issue 1000

People's Assembly event lacks understanding of task facing Corbyn

200 years since the birth of Karl Marx - come and walk in his footsteps!


Alt-right gains exposure - but tedious clichés betray lack of ideas

Rich, raw tale of financial crisis's impact on rural Ireland

The Socialist inbox


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