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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 June 2019

Welsh government must block NHS privatisation or face workers' action

Save our NHS, photo Mary Finch

Save our NHS, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Beth Webster, nurse

Two Welsh health boards have announced plans to privatise their hospital pharmacies.

Betsi Cadwaladr and Cardiff and Vale health boards say they cannot afford to employ sufficient dispensers to maintain an adequate service. They predict that outsourcing outpatient services to a private, community pharmacy will improve inpatient pharmacy services by reducing workload.

This is yet another consequence of the Welsh Labour government repeatedly refusing to bail out health boards that are over-budget, and its demand on health boards to make cuts to break even. Health boards across Wales are 97.4 million in deficit.

The Welsh government stands by as poverty increases, contributing to the strain on the health service. It blames the Tories in Westminster, instead of joining with trade unions to demand more funds to meet rising need.


Public sector union Unison has condemned the proposed privatisation. It has used the example of Carillion's collapse to illustrate the dangers of NHS privatisation - that private companies will prioritise profit over patient need.

Unison stated it would be willing to work with health boards and the Welsh health secretary to jointly lobby Westminster.

Unfortunately that opposition has so far not been translated into a campaign to explain to union members how privatisation puts their job security, pay and terms and conditions at risk.

Private companies cut costs not primarily by making processes more efficient, but by increasing the exploitation of those who work for them.

Lloyds pharmacy workers took strike action in Ireland last year over the company's refusal to allow union recognition, and poor pay and conditions.

It is the job of unions to organise workers for a fightback, not to passively wait for workers to move into struggle without a lead.

Many health workers feel their unions have not put up a fight as conditions in the NHS have deteriorated over many years. This can create temporary doubts about whether it's possible to fight and win.

Domestic workers in Unison at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow stopped their jobs being outsourced when they threatened a six-day strike, showing how effective workers' action against NHS privatisation can be with the support of their unions.

Unions should build campaigns with pharmacy workers and link them with other campaigns against attacks on the NHS, such as the hospital downgrades in West Wales. A public campaign opposing privatisation would have massive resonance with NHS staff and the public.

And it would build the basis for the workers' action needed to save the NHS.

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In The Socialist 19 June 2019:

What we think

While the Tories elect a new leader - prepare action to remove the lot of them


Welsh government must block NHS privatisation or face workers' action

Council cuts continue while reserves rise

Cancer stats reveal deep inequality

Them & Us

Climate change

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What way forward to tackle climate change?

Workplace news

Trade union action can end low pay

Schools unions must turn anger into a fight against funding catastrophe

Unite must be at the head of fighting for a general election and against council cuts

South Western Railway staff strike for safety

Ford Bridgend workers vote to fight to save threatened plant

Bluestar bus drivers' strike over pay

East London bin workers call 12-day strike over wage grades

Swansea Parcelforce workers picket depot in support of victimised rep

Harrogate academy workers strike against closure

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Chinese regime's puppet government in Hong Kong pushed back by mass protests

Sudan: The revolution under threat

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Angry Barking residents' meeting demands answers and action following fire

Orgreave injustice - 35th anniversary march and rally

Oppose big business's sphere of influence!

Young Socialists - re-establishing Rhondda's fighting traditions

North Shields: second march and rally to #SaveOurBridge

Newton Abbot says no to Tory privatisation of the NHS!

Worcester: Building on our successful library campaign


Defend free TV licences for over-75s!

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