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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 October 2001

Save The NHS: No To Privatisation

IN A move worthy of a sitcom plot, health secretary Alan Milburn has decided that the answer to declining resources and morale in the NHS is for top hospitals to play the stock market.

Rheian Davies, Registered Nurse

Mr. Milburn announced that the new powers would be given to the top 35 hospitals in his new league tables. Hospitals across the country have been given 0-5 stars. Creating a two-tier health service, the five-star hospitals will be able to bid for the no-star hospitals.

The hospitals with the worst rating match almost exactly with areas of economic deprivation. Poverty inevitably brings with it worse health, putting hospitals in poor areas under more pressure. Such hospitals find it more difficult to attract staff, making matters worse. Being labelled no-star will hardly help!

Milburn calls this a convenient excuse for problems. Instead of addressing poverty, instead of addressing staff shortages and providing more resources New Labour have decided that the no-star hospitals will be up for sale as franchises to the five star hospitals.

These are the same methods that McDonalds, who this year sponsored the Labour Party conference, use to run their fast food outlets.

Commenting on the stock market dive over the past three weeks, GMB union general secretary John Edmunds asked: "Where on earth has Alan Milburn been for the last two weeks? For ministers to urge hospitals to play the stock market at any time is bad enough but to do it at this of all times defies belief".

Unfortunately what defies belief even more is that GMB and UNISON unions have decided to suspend their campaign against privatisation in order not to embarrass New Labour in the wake of the American terror attacks.

This announcement shows that New Labour have no intention of suspending their plans to privatise the NHS. As representatives of big business, New Labour are cynically using the international crisis as an excuse to sack workers. If anything, they will accelerate their privatisation plans if the unions drop their opposition.

If Milburn wants to look at league tables he might reflect that the top forty dirtiest hospitals are all cleaned by private companies.

The trade unions must build opposition against New Labour's privatisation plans to save the national health service.

Anti-privatisation conference

Saturday 24 November,

11am-4pm.

University of London Union,

Malet Street, London WC1.

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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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 5 October 2001:

War is no solution

Save The NHS: No To Privatisation

US Imperialism's Confused "War Aims"

Growing Protests Against Bush's War

What Socialists Say About Terrorism

US / Afghan Crisis: CWI Reports From Around The World


 

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