STOP PRIVATISING THE NHS! say BMA and Unite strikers

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BMA and Unite strikers at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London yesterday lunchtime

BMA AND UNITE strikers picketed and marched round Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel yesterday.

BMA member Elizabeth Hobbs told News Line: ‘I’m showing my solidarity for striking public sector workers. I’m a junior doctor, I’ve been a doctor for 14 years.

‘I’ve seen working conditions deteriorate over this time. I’m fed up with this government. They don’t value working people, they just value wealthy people.

‘They don’t use the NHS themselves, so they are not interested in keeping a good service going.

‘I can see that they are slowly privatising the NHS. I support a general strike to get the Tories out.’

Unite strikers carried placards saying: ‘Save our NHS!’ and ‘Safe Staffing Now!’

Royal London Unite shop steward Grace Okyem, told News Line: ‘We are looking for fair pay. The trust never gave us the money they were supposed to. £1,600 is owed to us. It’s our money, they should give it to us.

‘Something must be done to improve the NHS. It’s going on across the country. I had to wait for hours in the A&E – from 12 noon to 11.30pm at night. There are not enough staff.

‘The government is not funding the NHS. There should be an improvement. They should treat us fairly and put more money in the NHS.

‘We have to change the government. We need a government that listens to the people. If they don’t listen we have to take action – all the unions.’

Susannah Kinsley, Unison member and social worker in Barnet, told News Line: ‘We’re asking for a recruitment and retention of 20 per cent because we restructured our services around 18 months ago and it’s resulted in a completely unmanageable waiting lists, meaning a big staff turnover.

‘We’re asking for a pay rise so that we can retain staff and bring in new workers, thereby bringing down the waiting lists. I think we’re heading towards a general strike because we’re all fighting for the same thing, and the Tories are not listening to our demands.’

Over 1,000 doctors descended on Manchester from across England to attend the BMA rally outside the Tory Party Conference on Tuesday afternoon.

On the BMA picket line outside Maudsley Hospital in south east London, Rupe Gupta, BMA Chair of the local negotiating committee for South London and Maudsley Hospitals, referred to the fact that it didn’t get a mention in capitalist newspapers.

He said: ‘The lack of coverage in the media testifies to how much the media is controlled. The voice of doctors, who actually save the nation and keep it alive everyday, is being sidelined and ignored.

‘The media must stop peddling inaccuracies’, he said, adding: ‘It is not just doctors, it’s nurses and teachers and everybody. I think if we don’t stand up today we are going to fall.’

Gupta said the government has now approached ACAS for talks with the BMA and that any outcome will be put to BMA members in a vote

Francis D’Costa, Consultant Psychiatrist said: ‘Our strike is for the preservation of the service. The NHS has been under threat for a long time. It is so underfunded and so overstretched that the way it is being run is not sustainable. We are aiming to preserve an NHS which is free at the point of delivery for all people rather than just for the privileged few.’

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