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25 October 2007

Public health not private wealth

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

THE PRESS are saying that the government is having a lousy time over the cuts-ridden national health service. In the Kent hospital scandal, hundreds of people caught 'superbugs'. Other people were removing their own teeth with pliers, having been denied access to NHS dentistry. Excuse me, but aren't the patients having an even lousier time?

Dave Griffiths , Coventry Socialist Party

The press report that 'we' kill 60 people a week in 'our' hospitals through infections. 'We' don't kill 60 a week. The drive to minimise costs, often started by cutting cleaners, kills them. They are not killed in 'our' hospitals, they are killed in hospitals run increasingly by the logic of the commercial market, where patients' priorities are not applied.

No wonder many now talk about going to hospital as a last resort. People die because profit comes first.

The relentless round of cuts, closures and privatisation in the NHS has produced many local protests. Now the national trade union-led demonstration on 3 November gives an opportunity to say a resounding 'no' to this profit-driven, market approach to our health.

If we fail, beware the future! Better-off people already live roughly 15 years longer than those in poorer areas in our increasingly class-divided society. The gap between 'rich' countries and 'poor' is even greater.

Stem cell technology, or "regenerative medicine", offers the hope of much longer lives for future generations. But not for us all. I heard a report recently about competing stem cell scientists. While the scientists traded insults about each other's work, it was obvious that their big business bosses were competing for who would make the huge potential profits out of this medicine.

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration March 3rd 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

So, farcically, scientists were hiding research and information from each other and all to make big money from those able to afford it. They talked of people living past 140 if they had the money, but being lucky to reach 40 in poor countries. It's class society on an incredible scale.

What kind of way is this to organise medicine? How long will new medicines be delayed by scientists hiding their notes from competitors less time spent on research, more on keeping it from others?

Strange isn't it? When they wanted an atom bomb in the 1940s, did the government and bosses set up dozens of competing laboratories hidden away from each other and let 'competition' decide who would come up with a bomb? No. They dragged the top brains together to develop it quickly! They didn't trust 'the market' to deliver fast.

We should not trust their market, either. That's why socialists argue for public ownership of all aspects of health. Put all the scientists together. Produce treatments on a mass scale so they are accessible to all. But then, of course, where would the profits come from?

So never mind if accident of birth means you'll live 100 years less than someone else, say our New Labour government ministers, we've got to keep the millionaires happy!

If this callous attitude towards health sickens you, come on the 3 November national demo. You should also join us in our fight for a socialist alternative to use all the scientific advances in health for the benefit of all of society.





Assemble 11am, Temple Place,

Victoria Embankment, London

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