IN the face of the rising anger of junior doctors, nurses, consultants, ancillary workers and patients over the Labour government’s policy of deliberately crashing the NHS, and bankrupting NHS Trusts, the government and the Department of Health have been forced to make a retreat.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt introduced a written order to the House of Commons yesterday morning abolishing the system under which NHS Trusts not only had to make good a deficit for the preceding year out of the current year’s budget, but was required to hand over an additional sum equal to the deficit as a sort of fine.
The RAB system was straight out of the Gordon Brown handbook on how to load NHS Trusts up with deficits that then grew by leaps and bounds.
This notorious Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) regime has now been abolished.
Hewitt said: ‘In line with these changes we are reversing income deductions imposed on NHS trusts in 2006/07 under the old RAB regime as a consequence of overspends in 2005/06. This totals £178m and benefits 28 NHS trusts.’
The stand and deliver government has been forced to hand cash back to some of its NHS victims.
Hewitt also revealed that: ‘A deficit of £547m has been transformed into a small surplus as reported on 20 February 2007 by the Department in the report NHS Financial Performance Quarter Three 2006-07.’
Hewitt was ‘pleased to announce that we can now allocate the £450m contingency to the NHS. This is being allocated to strategic health authorities (SHAs) on a fair shares basis, meaning that the most needy areas of the country will receive a larger share of the funding . . . Plus ‘The balance is available to begin to reverse the funding top-sliced from PCT allocations to create SHA level reserves.’
In other words the massive movement that has erupted in defence of the NHS has forced the government to begin feeding its NHS patient which it was trying to starve to death.
Yesterday the reformist trade union leaderships were busy congratulating Hewitt as if this limited pay-back to the NHS had not been forced out of her and Blair and Brown by the massive anger of NHS workers and users.
The issue is not to allow the process to stop here.
There is work to be done. The whole working class movement must be mobilised to end the payments by results system that has been forced on NHS Trusts, and has created the conditions for health rationing and the sacking of nurses, junior doctors and even consultants.
There must be an end to the privatisation of the Prime ary Care Trusts and an end made to their current role of referring patients out of the NHS into the growing private sector, which is being financed with NHS funds.
The private companies must be thrown out of the NHS, and the government’s drive to scrap up to 60 District General Hospitals stopped.
The NHS must be restored as the health service which provides free treatment at the point of need for all required treatments.
The trade union bureaucracy will however be more determined then ever to get behind Hewitt and Blair and not to rock their boat.
The reformist trade union leaders must be removed and be replaced by leaders who will fight.
This will be done by the rank and file mobilising to build councils of action to halt all NHS cuts and closures by occupying hospitals and putting them under the control of committees of doctors, nurses and patients.
This movement will drive forward the organisation of national strike action to bring down the Blair-Brown government to bring in a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies to defend and develop the NHS.
It is in this struggle for Councils of Action, national strike action and a workers’ government that the reformist trade union leaders will be removed and replaced by revolutionary leaders.
Only the WRP is fighting for this policy. Make sure you join it today.