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NHS: Not for sale!
Picture: RCN-Unison lobby of parliament. Paul Mattsson
EVERYTHING IS for sale. The message from New Labour is loud and clear. Last week they put out an ad inviting multinational vultures to take over 'buying' our healthcare. £64 billion worth of services for them to make a profit from. The government hadn't even announced the policy before the ad went out!
So if you get ill or need some treatment it could be US health company United Health Group (worth $16 billion) deciding where you should go. So where will they choose? The local NHS hospital or their own private treatment centres? It doesn't take a genius to work that one out.
All over the country health workers and local people have been campaigning against cuts and privatisation in the NHS. Local demonstrations and protests are taking place almost every week. The Socialist Party has been campaigning for the unions to unite these campaigns together by calling a national demonstration and organising for national action.
New Labour's advert was so blatant that even the TUC has been shaken out of its inertia. It has organised a meeting of NHS unions on 11 July to discuss how to resist privatisation. Health workers and campaigners will be lobbying this meeting demanding that a date for a national demonstration be set.
Len Hockey, joint secretary of UNISON in Whipps Cross hospital, northeast London told the socialist:
"We need to have a big mobilisation for this lobby to ensure that the unions act and give a focus to all the local campaigns to defend the NHS. We have a responsibility to our members and to the wider working class to stop New Labour from wrecking our NHS and ending our right to healthcare".
Lobby the TUC
Tuesday 11 July from 9.30am
Congress House, Great Russell St., London WC1.
Called by Wakefield and Pontefract Hospitals UNISON and Waltham Forest health UNISON
A REGIONAL demonstration is taking place in Birmingham on 15 July to defend the NHS from Labour's plans to sack thousands, remove beds, close wards and push privatisation even further.
Janice Bailey is a Sister in the Medical Assessment Unit at the University Hospital of North Staffs. She explains below why the demonstration is so important.
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.
"When I first started in nursing I never thought that in 2006 we would have to fight for our jobs. At first Labour's plans seemed alright as more staff were taken on and more patients were treated. But now many nurses feel betrayed by Labour's plans to sack thousands of nurses. It's not like we're asking for more money, we just want to carry on caring for patients.
Morale among staff is low which is not surprising. We have to deal with about 70 admissions every day. Many of them lie about on trolleys for hours. We used to have 32 staff but now we are down to 27 with the remainder made up with bank staff. On top of this we are now constantly worried about losing our jobs.
We have to show that it's OK to be more vocal and demonstrate our opposition to what's happening in the health service. The march in Stoke in April was brilliant and definitely raised morale among the staff. But the march in Birmingham will be even more important.
We need to extend the fightback into a national campaign including NHS staff, patients and local communities and this march will be a step in the right direction. It's vital that we are more proactive and make a stand otherwise there will be nothing left of the NHS as we know it. We need a national demonstration as soon as possible preferably organised by UNISON, the RCN and other NHS unions".
In The Socialist 6 July 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news