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NHS: Kick out the privatisers, Fight for funding, Build for strike action
Profit vultures descend on the NHS backlog
Mick Griffiths, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party
A recent report of new deals between the NHS and private hospitals and private healthcare groups comes as no surprise. It is claimed that the involvement of the private sector in non-urgent NHS procedures will free up NHS capacity. 14 million people could be on NHS waiting lists by autumn 2022, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies. But the shortages have not come from nowhere - but from decades of cuts under the Tories and New Labour.
Private health companies must have got a taste for government pay-outs throughout the pandemic. According to the Financial Times, in the early days of the pandemic, government money to the tune of £400 million a month shored up private health providers. The deal paid all their costs, including debt and interest. One company 'grew' its NHS revenues by 50% during 2020.
The Health and Care Bill due to be implemented in April 2022 will end competitive tendering. This will effectively legalise a private sector monopoly within the NHS.
The government claims that these deals will create around 7,000 extra beds in private hospitals to do non-urgent NHS work. However, the Tories have already inflicted a loss of 17,000 NHS beds!
The private sector is only interested in profit maximisation. Service standards will be reduced as private companies seek to attack health and care workers' pay and conditions. Linked to that is a major threat to end national pay bargaining, and therefore a massive threat to health workers and our unions.
Accountability and transparency will be out of the window as the new Integrated Care Systems boards become taken over by representatives of big business concerns.
The private sector should be kicked out of the NHS.
The Health and Care Bill needs to be defeated and reversed. It does not address the issue of acute staff shortages. It only offers more of the same and worse!
More cuts to Johnson's phony hospitals pledge
Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party and Save Our NHS Leicestershire
Last year Boris Johnson announced plans to build "40 new hospitals", it soon became clear that new funding was only proposed for new hospital building in six areas. Now it appears that even that funding is threatened with cuts!
The hospital trusts that have been promised funding have drawn up plans, and initial cost estimates are at around £550 million per hospital. But the government has told them to make new plans for only £400 million each, which would mean big cuts in hospital capacity.
In Leicester, one of those six trusts, the Save Our NHS Leicestershire campaign has raised concerns about the plans which include the closure of the General Hospital, one of the three acute hospitals in the area, as well as St Mary's Maternity Hospital in Melton Mowbray. In other words, actually fewer not more hospitals! Despite increasing the number of beds planned for the future, under pressure from the campaign, we still believe the proposals are inadequate for future needs.
Even the trust admits its own proposals, as they stand, will require more funding. We have pointed out that hospitals built for the future must be built with enough space to be ready for future potential pandemics to allow social distancing. The trust has now been forced to recognise this fact.
It is vital that we build a campaign that not only tackles the wider issues in the NHS such as staff shortages, low pay and inadequate day-to-day funding, but also demand government put enough money into new hospital buildings that are really adequate for our future needs.
Vote 'no' to 3%, 'yes' for action
Naomi Byron, Homerton Hospital worker and Unison executive council member (personal capacity), put out a video saying the following:
"I have a message for all Unison members working for the NHS. Please vote in the NHS pay ballot organised by Unison. You can do this by going to nhspay.org
"All you will need is your name and either your Unison membership number or your national insurance number.
"I recommend that you vote 'No' to the offer - the insulting 3% pay offer - and for industrial action. That would mean ticking the second question on the ballot.
"If you are not already a Unison member and not a member of any other union, I appeal to you to join today in order to register your opposition to this insulting offer. If you join by 3 September, you can still vote in the ballot."
NHS model motion
Can you assist in getting this motion passed in your trade union branch or organisation?
This (organisation) believes that the Tories' pay awards for NHS workers, teachers and the rest of the public sector are an insult and should be opposed.
- A million health workers have been told that they are only worth a 3% pay rise.
- A million teachers, hundreds of thousands of civil servants and many transport workers face a pay freeze. Council and Higher Education workers have been told 1.5% and Further Education staff 1%.
- These insults don't include all the care and NHS workers employed in the private sector. They should be brought back in-house
We also oppose the Tories' Health and Care Bill which seeks to extend privatisation and threatens to break up the NHS.
This (organisation) instructs our union's (NEC/EC/SGE/NISC) to:
Oppose the pay offers and prepare industrial action ballots
Call on the TUC and public sector unions to come together to prepare to fight the pay freeze/pay cap. This should include:
- The leaders of the public sector unions urgently meeting to plan a coordinated fight.
- The TUC calling a meeting of its Public Services Liaison Group to name the date for a national demonstration to fight for pay justice, to defend the NHS, and help prepare for coordinated strike action across the public sector.
In The Socialist 11 August 2021: