ACTION must be taken by the trade unions to defend the NHS


THE crisis of the NHS has reached the point of its transformation.

Because of the fake NHS pricing mechanisms imposed by Labour, NHS hospitals are being bankrupted, and readied to be cut, losing their maternity facilities and/or A&Es, or being completely closed.

Health Minister Hewitt has already issued a handbook of spin that is to be used for both eventualities.

While NHS hospitals face the axe, billions of pounds of the NHS budget are being handed over in blocs to the private sector, creating massive profits for the privateers, without any inspection or regulation of the work that they are supposed to be doing.

At the same time a living hell is being created for junior doctors, nurses, and student nurses.

Junior doctors are being forced to reapply for their own jobs under the government’s Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) plan. Over 8,000 of them, who cost £3 billion to train for up to ten years, face the sack this August.

Nurses are already losing their jobs, while student nurses are going straight from graduation onto the jobseekers allowance.

In a number of areas, NHS trusts are attempting to enrol desperate nurse graduates onto fake training schemes, which in fact entail daily work on hospital wards for a ‘training allowance’ that amounts to £2.60 an hour!

As part of the general wrecking of the NHS, over 13,000 Indian doctors who have served the NHS loyally and professionally for years have been forced out of the NHS, with many having to return home, after a change in NHS regulations has seen to it that eastern European doctors, most of whom cannot speak English, take priority over Commonwealth citizens in the filling of NHS vacancies.

Now Hewitt has unveiled a new batch of PFI hospitals to further enrich finance capital, and beggar the NHS.

Brown and Blair are handing the NHS over to the privateers. Their ‘outriders’ such as Clarke and Milburn, are already suggesting that payment for NHS treatment is what is really necessary.

Yesterday the leader of UNISON, Prentis, assured News Line that there ‘will be no more NHS Logistics’.

This was the appalling episode when UNISON and the whole of the trade union movement stood to one side and allowed the government to privatise a section of the NHS and hand it to the German company DHL. They even sold the ‘NHS’ name.

The union leaders ran away. This was after the Labour Party conference had opposed the government and backed them three days before the privatisation. And still they did nothing.

They must not be given another chance to betray.

All over the country today workers must demand the union leaders take action to defend the NHS, or else quit and make way for a leadership that will.

What is required is a general strike to defend the NHS by bringing down the Blair-Brown government and bringing in a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.

The way to achieve this is for the trade unions and the communities at local level to take decisive action to stop the cuts and closures of NHS hospitals.

This will be done by forming councils of action to organise strike action against cuts and the occupation of hospitals to stop their closure.

Such Councils of Action will call and fight for national strike action, to defend such occupations, at every stage of the struggle, to defeat the Blair-Brown government, and prevent them preparing the return of the Tories.

This is the way forward. What it requires is action not words, and replacing the the utterly useless leaders of the TUC trade unions with a new and revolutionary leadership.

Demand the union leaders call national strike action to defend the NHS! Build councils of action to occupy closure threatened hospitals! Build a new leadership in the trade unions and forward to a workers’ government!