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27 June 2012


Roger Shrives

The Con-Dems have the National Health Service in their sights - but now we can see clearly their brutal intentions! Tory health minister Andrew Lansley is putting the South London Healthcare NHS Trust into the hands of a government 'special administrator'.

Already there are open threats to jobs and services at the trust's three hospitals, Queen Elizabeth at Woolwich, Queen Mary's in Sidcup and Princess Royal at Bromley.

The media headlines say the trust is losing 1 million a week and has run up deficits of more than 150 million over the past three years. But that deficit is caused by privatisation - especially the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme for building hospitals which makes rich businesses even richer at our expense.

PFI schemes in this trust area alone now cost 61 million per year in interest payments, far more than the hospitals' losses and PFI repayments are due to last another 20 years! These charges put private profit before local people's health.

This open threat is also a warning to other health authorities - over 20 are already in serious debt due to PFI. The Con-Dems want to bail out the banks but not the hospitals, for us it's austerity and attacks on services. That's why we must fight back.

PFI , introduced by the Tories but accelerated by Labour, means that NHS organisations will eventually pay over 50 billion for buildings worth 11 billion. Princess Royal hospital, built under a PFI contract will cost the NHS 1.2 billion, more than ten times its real value.

In order to boost the profits of the 1%, especially the speculators and private health shareholders, the government expects local people (the 99%) to pay with cancelled operations, lower levels of service and a massacre of jobs and workers' conditions.

Onay Kasab, a Unite activist in Greenwich, told the Socialist: "The news comes as no surprise to those of us fighting against privatisation of services in this area. We correctly pointed out that PFI (Profit from Illness) would lead to massive profits for private companies, while services were put at risk and we would be left to pick up the pieces from the resultant debts.

"From the beginning, before the PFI companies began ripping us off, we said that PFI is a money laundering exercise letting public money go into the coffers of private companies via a convoluted route. Now is the time to demand a halt and reversal of the privatisation of the health service."

NHS users and workers must organise a fightback to ensure that resistance becomes reality. Delegates to the British Medical Association (BMA) conference voted this week for a campaign to repeal Lansley's Health and Social Care Act. Other unions have policies demanding a fight against cuts and privatisation.

Socialists will be fighting to build a mass struggle, led by the trade unions, with protest marches and strikes, to save the NHS and the other services being attacked by this government. No to austerity, no to NHS cuts!

NHS Feature:

Stop the NHS massacre

It has been well documented that the National Health Service (NHS) is under attack and in England faces its total destruction through the Health and Social Care Act.

But exactly what is happening, why and what can be done about it? Socialist Party health worker activists, including Terry Pearce of the Save Heatherwood Hospital campaign (personal capacity) investigate.

Read on ...