‘The unions need to mobilise joint industrial action to defeat the Health and Social Care Bill and see off this Tory coalition government.’
This was the message of BMA Council member Anna Athow, speaking in a personal capacity, on the eve of today’s London demonstration to mark the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the NHS.
The Unite union has organised today’s march from Savoy Street in The Strand to Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament, setting off at 6.00pm (see advert page 3).
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey will tell the rally: ‘The public and health professionals will have to battle very hard against the coalition politicians who want to privatise the NHS, putting shareholder profit before patient care.
‘Already patients and service users are experiencing reductions in services and increasing waiting times for operations because of the £20 billion worth of so-called “efficiency savings” from a Prime Minister who laughably pledged that the NHS was safe in Tory hands.
‘David Cameron and his party now want to privatise the NHS – this is the central core of the Health and Social Care Bill, now before MPs.
‘People need to mobilise in their communities and lobby their MPs, otherwise the NHS’s 63rd birthday could turn into a wake for a service that has been free at the point of delivery for working people since its formation in 1948.’
Unison has inserted advertisements in a number of newspapers today.
The adverts feature an image of an x-ray of a broken limb under two headlines: ‘Breaking up the NHS will hurt you’ and ‘Stop the break-up of the NHS’.
Unison said in a statement: ‘Don’t be fooled. Even after “listening”, the government’s legislation will let private companies grab any part of the NHS, putting profits before patients.
‘Now is the time to stop them, to make sure that the NHS will still be in good shape when it’s 64.’
Speaking to News Line yesterday, Dr Athow said: ‘On the anniversary of the NHS, the NHS is being strangled in front of our eyes, through the massive £20bn cuts and the drive to rush the Health and Social Care Bill through parliament.
‘The Bill hands the delivery and eventually the commissioning of NHS care to a market of private companies.
‘The NHS as a publicly provided service would be finished, with the loss of thousands of staff and huge reduction in NHS hospital care.
‘These healthcare corporations are getting ready for a bonanza of profit-making out of NHS funds.
‘Healthcare for profit is the end of comprehensive healthcare for need, free at the point of use, and hurtles us towards a US-style system.
‘No amounts of protests and advertisements, good as they are, will defeat this Bill.
‘Threatened hospitals must be occupied. NHSTogether, the TUC and the health unions should be leading this fight.’