Stop NHS privatisation to end the bed cuts

Picket outside Bow Street Magistrates Court demanding ‘Stop the Political Terror’ and ‘Free Babar Ah
Picket outside Bow Street Magistrates Court demanding ‘Stop the Political Terror’ and ‘Free Babar Ah

HEALTH Secretary Hewitt warned over a month ago that if NHS trusts failed to resolve their growing debt crisis, hospital departments would be closed and that – dispensing with half measures – whole hospitals would be closed.

Under Labour the survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle, the modus operandi of capitalism has been brought into the centre of the NHS by the government handing over bigger and bigger chunks of the NHS budget to the private medical industry, to do NHS work, and undermine NHS hospitals.

More than a third of NHS hospitals will now have to cut beds, close entire wards or even shut down completely, because the government’s policy is to build up the private sector, by handing as much as 15 per cent of the NHS budget to it, to do the easiest and the most profitable NHS work.

Advertisements are being placed in medical journals all over the world, inviting private companies to come to Britain to make hay with the multi-billion NHS budget.

Health Secretary Hewitt and the Blair government view what is taking place in the NHS as essentially progressive.

The more than one third of NHS hospitals in deficit, are to be cut or even closed. Labour will then sell the ‘failed’ hospitals to the private sector at rock bottom prices. They will then be allowed to employ NHS staff, at reduced rates, and then consume more of the NHS budget.

Labour is taking the NHS to the cleaners, to the brink of outright privatisation, and is immediately poised to force through thousands of bed cuts.

The Glasgow Health Authority is set to slash 350 hospital beds, including cancer and maternity beds.

The Glasgow South East Health Forum has voiced concerns that the cuts will mean patients not getting enough time to recover from operations, and will suffer and perhaps die at home, or have to be brought back to the hospital for further treatment.

Brian Cowan, medical director of NHS Greater Glasgow, called the bed slashing proposals ‘difficult and challenging’, adding: ‘We predict that up to 10,000 more patients could be treated as day patients and would therefore have no need for a bed.’

The Royal College of Nursing said it is seeking reassurances that care standards be maintained, while the UNISON Regional Officer Michael McNeil, said on Friday, about the bed cut proposals contained in a document a ‘Vision for the Future of Inpatient care’: ‘Somebody at the Board is certainly having visions if they believe this will be welcomed by the people of Glasgow.’

He said he had ‘grave concerns’ about the way papers, such as this plan, had been circulated at the last minute before the board meeting. He commented on the bed cuts – ‘Cutting bed numbers in haste has been repented at leisure elsewhere. . .’

It is the same story up and down the country where over a thousand beds have been marked out for closure involving plans to cut wards and entire community hospitals to balance the NHS books.

There is only one way to defend the NHS, and that is to reject privatisation and to defeat it. The health trade unions and the TUC must be forced, by the membership of the trade unions, to tell Blair that the semi-private Foundation hospitals must be returned to centralised control, and that the private sector must be kicked out of the NHS to bring the system back into the black.

The NHS badly needs additional funds. The best way to get them is to bring down the Blair government, and bring in a workers’ government that will nationalise the drug companies.