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NHS protesters on the march
RCN-UNISON lobby of parliament
THE NHS is under attack. Blair and New Labour are forcing hospitals across the country to make over £800 million of cuts to their budgets. But a fightback is starting - last weekend 4,000 people marched in Stroud.
Birmingham Socialist Party's SEAN MCCAULEY explains what is happening in Birmingham where preparations are underway for a West Midlands regional demonstration on 15 July.
YEARS OF Tory underinvestment and a decade of New Labour's waste of public resources on pivatisation schemes like PFI are to blame for the present financial crisis. So Labour's new solution is to sack health workers in mass redundancies.
I recently had to take my 12-month-old son to Birmingham Children's Hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E). Naturally, the care he got from the professionals was first class but the wait was horrendous.
We arrived at 12 midnight and didn't see a doctor until 4am. And now the service can only get worse.
The Chief Executive has announced that the posts of 50 senior nurses will be axed and replaced with lower-paid, less qualified staff. Other Birmingham hospitals have announced redundancies: 800 at the City and Sandwell Hospitals and 95 at the Women's Hospital.
This is on top of recent bed cuts across Birmingham and the Black Country. Waits in A&E and time spent on trolleys before being moved to a free bed in a ward will get worse.
Health workers, who are already stretched, will be expected to deliver the same kind of service with fewer staff.
The Chief Executive of Birmingham Women's Hospital claim these cuts won't affect the quality of care for patients but John Adler, top boss of City and Sandwell Hospitals was more realistic: "It would be fanciful to say there will be no impact on patient services."
Adler claims the 800 job cuts at City and Sandwell will include no nursing posts. But the service nurses deliver will suffer badly if other health workers who provide support are sacked.
Besides, nobody trusts someone who said last year's 200 job losses would sort out the financial problems and then comes back for more this year.
He recently told staff that over 100 compulsory redundancies may have to be made. Staff will be demanding their unions see there are none whatsoever.
We think all this is the final straw. It is time to do something to stop the destruction of the NHS and many people will join us on the 15 July demo. We also want to see health unions like UNISON calling a national demo.
A successful march in the second city will put more pressure on them to act now before it's too late. Unlike the national leaders of the health unions, we aren't afraid to embarrass the New Labour government. Many workers are asking why these unions still give big donations to a Labour Party which is cutting their members' jobs, conditions and pensions.
We need a new party for working people which will fight for us over issues like this.
Campaign stalls take place every Saturday in Birmingham city centre, 10.30am-12.30pm, outside BHS on New Street.
Come along and help us get more petitions signed and leaflets out.
See also: Rebellion over hospital cuts
Join the demonstration
West Midlands march to defend the NHS
Saturday 15 July
Assemble 11am at City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham.
March to rally in Centenary Square at 1pm.
Posters and leaflets can be downloaded from the following websites: nhssos.org.uk or stokesocialistparty.org.uk
In The Socialist 15 June 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news