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Tory cash boost not enough - save our NHS
Tessa Warrington, East Midlands Socialist Party
Theresa May has announced an NHS budget increase of 3-4%, amounting to a cash boost of up to £6 billion a year.
The Tory government is on the brink due to splits over Brexit - so May is preparing the ground for another general election. But her promise is not nearly enough to solve the crisis in our NHS.
The front page headline on issue 1 of the Socialist, back in February 1997, was "Stop the health rip-off." In a month of anniversaries, not only are we marking the 1000th issue of the Socialist - but on 5 July the 70th birthday of the NHS. This year the NHS even gets a gift!
The scrapping of the eight-year policy limiting NHS funding increases to just 1% is a big shift. It reveals the enormous pressure building from below from tireless grassroots campaigns - and the dangerous position May and her infighting party of the super-rich find themselves in.
The deterioration of the NHS is widespread and well-known. Chronic understaffing will leave a gap of 115,000 in the workforce by 2027, according to NHS training coordinator Health Education England.
The latest 'winter crisis' led to the temporary cancellation of all non-urgent operations. Hospitals have overspent by millions a year as providing services proves incompatible with balancing the books.
However, the NHS has been the battleground where a number of important campaigns have fought and won.
The Glenfield children's heart unit in Leicester, Chatsworth neurorehabilitation ward in Mansfield, and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary A&E in Yorkshire. All threatened with closure, all remain open today - due to mass campaigns where the Socialist Party and Socialist newspaper played a leading role.
The Tories are worried not just about losing an election - but of the potential for workers to grow in confidence that they can fight back and demand more.
The current plans for coordinated strike action across the NHS in West Yorkshire, where estates and facilities staff are fighting outsourcing, are exactly the sort of thing the Tories fear and hope to head off with this pledge.
But much, much more investment than this is needed make the NHS fit for purpose. And only taking the whole health sector into public ownership under democratic workers' control and management - including the big drugs companies - will make that investment effective.
We know any concession from capitalist politicians is temporary. And we know they will try to make the working class pay for it with cuts elsewhere.
So Jeremy Corbyn must prepare for a general election too. He could start by pointing all this out and calling for the socialist policies needed to save our NHS - and to achieve an internationalist, pro-worker Brexit.
He should also call publicly for a mass turnout on the 30 June NHS demo in London, to turn it into a 'Tories out' march and make it the launchpad to build for coordinated strikes. Millions would respond to a serious strategy to boot the Tories out of office once and for all.
- National march for the NHS - 70th anniversary - Saturday 30 June, assemble 12pm at Portland Place, London W1A 1AA
26 Feb Austerity kills
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