Unions Must Take Action To Defend The NHS

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Trade union banners on last Saturday’s 500,000-strong march against the ‘CPE’ first job contract attack on young workers
Trade union banners on last Saturday’s 500,000-strong march against the ‘CPE’ first job contract attack on young workers

THE TUC and all trade unions must be made to take action to defend the NHS before it is butchered by Blair and completely privatised by the Tories.

In the last week alone, notice has been given that more than 2,000 jobs are to be cut in the NHS, with many more thousands of job and bed cuts in the pipeline.

The Royal Free Hospital in London is to cut 480 jobs, 50 of them nurses’ jobs and also cut 100 out of its 1,000 beds to save £25 million.

Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, is planning to axe 190 jobs including 103 nurse and midwife posts. It has a £13 million deficit and is already inviting staff to take redundancy.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton is cutting 300 jobs, Plymouth Hospitals Trust is cutting 200 jobs while North Staffs trust is cutting 1,000 jobs including 750 compulsory redundancies which include 15 consultants and 350 nurses and midwives.

The County Durham and Darlington Acute Hospital NHS Trust announced 700 posts to go in the next three years. The hospital has a £16 million ‘overspend’, and has already cut 100 jobs.

These are just this week’s cuts and closures.

In fact, the total cash crisis in the NHS in London alone is near to £700 million, so there are many, many more cuts, and thousands more redundancies to come.

This ongoing destruction of the NHS is being speeded up as the government, which has loaded up NHS hospitals with massive debts, hands its health market over to the private sector.

We have already had the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) where hospitals are privately built and owned and leased to the NHS Trust, along with its ancillary services, for up to £20 million a year for between 30 and 60 years.

We have already seen many billions of pounds of the NHS budget being handed over to the private sector to establish private treatment centres, and to allow private medical companies to take over ‘failed’ NHS hospitals.

This process is now being accelerated with Primary Care Trusts receiving 70 per cent of the NHS budget, and being told by the government to use it to purchase services from the private sector, and to refer patients to care in the community away from hospitals.

The result of this is that patients are suffering, and NHS hospitals are going bust, but the private sector is in heaven, being fattened up and making millions out of looting the NHS budget.

Now the ethos of the production line is to take the place of proper medical treatment, with the introduction of payment by results for NHS hospitals. They will be billed for every detail of their activities while private treatment centres are to continue to receive block payment regardless of how much work they do, and regardless of its quality.

The NHS is going to be the very poor relation of the private sector under Blair and Brown’s health market, where it will be cut and slimmed down, out of existence.

The trade unions must step in to prevent the destruction of the NHS and to stop tens of thousands of consultants, doctors, nurses and ancillary workers being made redundant in the next year.

The NHS trade unions must mobilise all trade unions to defend the NHS. The trade unions must take the initiative in forming councils of action in every area to mobilise every section of the community to stop ward closures, bed cuts, jobs cuts and hospital closures in their locality.

The trade unions must tell Blair that they will not accept a single NHS redundancy or bed cut. The TUC must call a one day general strike to defend the NHS, and to prepare the way for indefinite strike action to bring the Blair government down.

Blair intends to hand power back to the Tories who will abolish the NHS. The trade unions must bring down the Blair government and bring in a workers government. This will nationalise the banks and the drug companies to safeguard and finance the further development of the NHS.