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From: The Socialist issue 857, 27 May 2015: Stop Tory welfare butchery

Search site for keywords: NHS - Trusts - Privatisation - Cuts - Whipps Cross - Hospital - PFI - Barts

NHS trusts heading for bankruptcy

The NHS funding crisis continues to deepen with NHS trusts in England reporting a 822 million deficit for 2014-15. Foundation Trusts (FTs - which are largely unaccountable to the public and operate semi-independently of the NHS) reported a 349 million deficit compared to a planned 10 million deficit.

One major factor in the rising deficits was the amount forked out by trusts to buy in contract and agency staff - a consequence of permanent staff shortages.

NHS trusts spent a staggering 1.8 billion on temporary workers - double the expected bill. The lack of permanent staff has also increased waiting times and worsened patient care.

FTs were established by the last Labour government and are expected to 'compete' to secure sufficient income. In reality, despite cost-cutting, FTs have been spending their cash reserves but many are now running out of money.

The Tory government says it will increase the NHS budget 8 billion a year by 2020. However, NHS England will have to make 22 billion "efficiency savings" ie cuts, by that date.

On the 'PFI bus' tour of Barts Trust hospitals in East London, photo Paul Mattsson

On the 'PFI bus' tour of Barts Trust hospitals in East London, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Privatisation wrecking hospitals

Barts NHS Trust in east London, the largest NHS trust in England, has been criticised as "inadequate" by the Care Quality Commission.

This criticism follows an earlier CQC report which placed Whipps Cross Hospital (one of four acute hospitals run by the trust) into 'special measures'. That CQC report highlighted a culture of bullying management and an over-reliance on agency staff.

Recently, long-serving health worker and trade unionist at Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Munro, was reinstated in her job following a successful employment tribunal. She was sacked in October 2013 by a hostile management who claimed she had "brought the trust into disrepute".

Charlotte, alongside other trade union activists, had questioned the cuts (including the 'downbanding' of staff) being made by the trust.

Cuts

These cuts are a result of a 93 million deficit caused by a rip-off Private Finance Initiative contract to redevelop the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Socialist Party members at Whipps Cross campaigned for industrial action to defeat the cuts and PFI.

This privatisation measure is costing Barts 2 million a week to service, draining it of vitally needed resources. At the same time the PFI contract has, so far, made the private companies involved 150 million in profit.

PFI was first introduced under the Major Tory government but then rapidly expanded by Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • 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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