|The News Line: Feature
Friday, 7 September 2012
Hunt’s appointment – a declaration of war on the NHS!
THE appointment of Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State (SoS) for Health, is a declaration of war on the NHS.
|North East London Council of Action demonstration in Enfield against the closure of Chase Farm Hospital
Hunt is a right winger who has gone on record calling for denationalisation of the NHS and its replacement with an insurance based health system. (‘Direct Democracy.’ 2005)
He was one of three shadow ministers in 2009 to speak out in support of David Hannan a Tory MEP, who told US TV that the NHS was ‘a sixty year old mistake’.
Only this year, as SoS for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, he recorded his displeasure, at the promotion and applauding of the NHS, in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony.
James Richard Streynsham Hunt comes from a privileged family, was head boy at Charterhouse public school, and then became a pal of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford University where he chaired the Conservative Association.
He rose to fame as Media Secretary after December 2010, when he replaced Vince Cable, and actively promoted Rupert Murdoch’s interests in taking over British Broadcasting.
Although supposed to be neutral, he was accused of supporting News Corporation’s £8bn bid to take over BSkyB, through close relations with James Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and others.
Nick Clegg demanded an investigation by the independent advisor on ministerial interests. Labour called for him to resign.
David Cameron refused to investigate or sack him, as his own longstanding mutual relations with the Murdock empire would have come under even closer scrutiny, and would have threatened his own position as Prime Minister.
He kept faith with Hunt. The pivotal role of Health Minister, in charge of £100bn annual budget is the return for services rendered.
Hunt will relish this post, as he believes in diminishing the role of the state, and allowing market forces to take over public services.
Fresh from a bold attempt to privatise most of British Broadcasting, he will champion the entry of large corporations to take over the running of commissioning and delivering healthcare in England, now legalised by Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act.
The unions should be demanding Hunt’s resignation from day one.
Instead, some key health union leaders have welcomed the chance to work with him.
They appear to have forgotten or forgiven his right-wing politics and unscrupulous grovelling to big business, by displaying their own rotten opportunism.
Some union leaders, even implied that Jeremy Hunt might contemplate a change in course. In fact these union leaders are contemplating giving up the defence of the NHS, just as they gave up the fight to defend pensions, the honourable exceptions being the RMT and PCS.
The BMA said ‘The appointment of a new SoS for Health provides a fresh opportunity for doctors and government to work together to improve patient care and deal with the many challenges facing the NHS...... We look forward to working with Jeremy Hunt on the many pressing issues facing our health service.’
Unison’s head of Health, Christine McAnea said ‘Jeremy Hunt has an opportunity to listen to patients, professionals and unions about the damage the Act will continue to do to the NHS. Let’s hope he does not waste it.’
Racheal Maskell, head of Health for Unite, said that ‘Jeremy Hunt should think long and hard on the errors of his predecessor and seek immediate dialogue with the NHS team and their unions. He has the power to slam the door on the increasing privatisation of the NHS.’
Such apparent naivety is dangerous. It is the classic cover for opportunism. The union leaders should be able to recognise an arch enemy, with a track record like this. They are closing their eyes to the truth.
The attacks on the NHS and staff will be redoubled and accelerate.
The union leaders should be raising the alarm bells and organising actions to keep hospitals, ambulance stations, and community services open, and defending jobs through occupations and industrial action, rather than considering friendly chats.
They should be preparing their membership to turn the 20th October TUC national march into the start of prolonged all union industrial action to get rid of the entire coalition government and restore the NHS to public ownership.
In fact the Tories are queuing up to knife the NHS. Only a general strike that brings their coalition down and brings in a workers government can stop them.
Meanwhile the battle is on to defend the NHS from the privateers.
The Save Our NHS Hull and East Yorkshire group is speaking out against the £99 million cuts at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham.
Their march, organised for Saturday, September 22, aims to show the strength of feeling among the public and the group hopes large numbers of people will turn out.
Group secretary Dermot Rathbone, 44, of Kirk Ella, who suffers from a degenerative brain condition called cerebellar ataxia, said: ‘We want our elected members to take on board the feelings of the public.
‘The response has been fantastic but we need people to show how they feel.
‘It’s about getting the voices heard in the community and we want to hold people to account on why this is happening.’
Their concerns follow the recent closure of ward six, a specialist cardiac ward at Castle Hill Hospital, and other planned cutbacks.
Group members want people to lobby their MPs to ask for a rebate of the money, as they believe the cuts are ‘too severe’ and not in line with the rest of the country.
Co-chairman Danny Marten, 25, who has recently undergone successful treatment for testicular cancer, said: ‘It’s a “people power” campaign.
‘Saving £99 million with the health inequalities we have in Hull is not sustainable.
‘These cuts are too deep. Everybody is a patient of the NHS but some haven’t checked in yet.’
John Barber, chief financial officer at Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, said the latest financial plan means £24 million has to be saved this year and again next year, and £99 million will be saved in total by 2018.
He said: ‘The general direction is the NHS is going to have to make bigger savings and it’s getting harder.
‘It’s a really daunting challenge and we have to do things differently.
‘We are going to have to reduce the number of beds and staff we have.
‘That is unavoidable in the context of that level of savings.’
The battle is now raging all over the country.
North West London NHS is planning to close the A& E Departments at Ealing , Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospital.
The Save our Hospitals Campaign Ealing has now united everyone including Ealing Council, political parties, Ealing Trades Union Council, community & religious groups, Ealing Hospital SOS, hospital and all local trade unions in the common aim of defending our health service.
The big priority at present is to get masses of people out on the streets for the demonstration on Saturday 15th September but we need your help to publicise the March.
The march will assemble from 10.00 in Southall Park and leave around 11.00am, arriving Ealing Hospital 11.40; Hanwell 11.50; Ealing Town Hall 12.20; and finish at Ealing Common for a Rally around 1.00pm where there will be live music & food courtesy of the Council!.
A feeder march will also take place from Acton Park assembling at 11.00 and leaving at 12noon for Ealing Common.
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