‘WE ARE calling for a general strike against the privatisation of the NHS,’ Hands off Huddersfield Royal Infirmary spokesman, Mike Foster, told a demonstration in defence of South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw NHS Services last Saturday afternoon.
He was speaking after more than 300 angry NHS staff and members of the public marched through Barnsley town centre demanding ‘defend our NHS throughout South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and nationwide’.
The publicity for the demonstration detailed the local NHS crisis as follows: ‘South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw areas have been bolted together to enable unelected government offices to cut the NHS services to shreds, through privatisation and closures. The decision to do this has not been made by parliament or another elected body. Remember – the NHS belongs to all of us, so we should all get a say in any changes to our NHS!
‘1 Barnsley Hyper-acute Stroke service closed about a year ago.
‘2 Bassetlaw and Rotherham Emergency Stroke Service will close too.
‘3 Bassetlaw Children’s ward is closed at night. Overnight stay for acutely ill children will stop in many hospitals.
‘4 Much children’s surgery will close in 3 out of 5 South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw hospitals in 2018.
‘5 There is no out-of-hours GP service in parts of Bassetlaw now at all.
‘6 South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw review of hospitals just started – services said to be unsustainable will be closed.’
Health care assistant, Monica, however, was the first of the speakers to call for general strike action. ‘People who work in the NHS will also be suffering,’ she warned. ‘It’s time Labour called a general strike.’
She continued: ‘I’m seeing a great change now in NHS services. Nurses are telling me that they are not able to give the adequate care that they want to give. A 24-year-old nurse, starting work at 7.15 in the morning while not leaving till after 9.00pm, and without a break, told me: ‘If I can’t do it at my age, how can nurses nearing retirement age do it.’
Monica continued: ‘A former fellow nurse told me: “I can earn more money outside the NHS now. You get more working at Aldi.” All this is a Tory ploy to make the NHS fail. But we say: We want to work for the NHS because we care. And I will fight for the NHS.’