Archive for the ‘nhs’ Category

30 days to save the NHS

May 11, 2017

I was watching Pointless the other day, when a question about the NHS came up – 12 out of 100 people did not know what NHS stood for, and the founders of the NHS (Aneurin Bevin and Clement Attlee’s landslide 1945 Labour government) which ushered in the welfare state only managed a score in the 20s. On Twitter, the BBC quipped, “there were originally seven questions in this round, but they have had their funding cut”.

A recent Labour Party PPB highlighted its role in creating the NHS and how it can be transformed once again – http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/01/19/labour-hits-back-tories-nhs-lines-first-party-political-broadcast-2017

Aneurin Bevan’s national vision for free healthcare was inspired by a working-class community in Wales. It is important that we educate ourselves about the origins of the NHS, as it is facing oblivion under the Tories.  24 A&E services are facing the axe and another nine are being down-graded. The NHS is facing £22bn of cuts over the next four years. A major reason for this mess are PFI deals and privatisation, brought in by John Major’s Tory government, expanded on by Blair and Brown and continued under Cameron and May. Essential services are run by companies such as Capita, Virgin Healthcare, and Serco. Perhaps not so surprising when you consider that 71 Lib Dem / Tory MPs, who voted for the sell-off of the NHS, with the 2014 Health and Social Care Act, have links to private healthcare companies.

But there is an alternative. If elected, Corbyn’s Labour government will reverse decades of underfunding and privatisation to public services, by bringing the NHS back into public ownership. This is a policy which the Socialist Party has long fought for. Labour pledges to abolish hospital parking charges and to kick out the privateers from our healthcare system. This is so important, because for any private company, its priority is to its shareholders and the bottom line, rather than the provision of a public service.

However, this will only happen if enough of us vote for an alternative to cuts and privatisation in the upcoming general election. You can register to vote here. There has never been more at stake. For the first time, I will be voting Labour, having been put off previously by its failed, feeble, centre-right Blairism. But the Labour party is changing radically for the better. Hopefully millions of other people will be convinced to do the same on June 8th.

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On Mark Serwotka, socialism and why we need ECMO

November 20, 2016

I read a very moving article in the Guardian on the plight of the leader of the PCS union Mark Serwotka. One of the most militant trade union leaders in the UK, he started his working life as a benefits clerk in the civil service.

Whilst taking his black labrador for a walk, the dog rolled in mud. He washed it down, only to suffer what he thought was an allergic reaction. It turned out to be a life-threatening virus. Two weeks later, it caused his heart to start beating at 220bpm, and an MRI scan found scarring on his internal organs.

After life-saving surgery at Papworth Hospital, Serwotka has been given a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device), which uses similar technology  to the ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine, which keeps new-born babies who suffer from congenital heart problems alive. He had to keep himself plugged in to the briefcase-sized unit at all times, which did the work of his heart in pumping blood around his body. This technology was pioneered at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, which accounts for 50% of the country’s ECMO capacity.

Last Saturday, I attended a packed rally at Socialism 2016, where PCS Deputy General Secretary and Socialist Party member Chris Baugh spoke in Mark Serwotka’s place. Chris paid tribute to Mark’s struggle, but also alluded to the struggle we have under capitalism to combat climate change, the need to fight for socialism, as well as Tory government attacks on the PCS union. This included the right to facility time for representatives, and the removal of automatically deducted union subs from payslips. All this because the PCS had dared to stand up against pension cuts, staff losses and austerity, and been one of the most effective trade unions in the country. The union had succeeded in recruiting 152,000 union members, which the government had effectively disenfranchised  and removed from the union. Their intention, starting with the PCS union, is to destroy the trade union movement as a fighting force to stand up for workers’ rights.

The reason Mark Serwotka could not attend in person, was that he had developed a blood clot. He now has to be given a constant supply of blood thinning medication, through an intravenous drip, meaning he has been confined to Papworth Hospital, while awaiting a heart transplant.

Like Mark and the PCS union, the Glenfield Children’s Heart unit which pioneered the technology which is keeping him alive, also faces a fight for its survival. Leicester Socialist Party, Green Party, Momentum, Keep Our NHS Public, the UNITE union, and parents of children who had been treated at the Glenfield Hospital, organised a 1,500 strong demonstration through the streets of Leicester, chanting “Save Our Glenfield, Save Our Kids”.

There is an online petition to Parliament, which I urge you to sign. It calls for a public review into the threatened closure of the Children’s Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital, along with the Royal Brompton in London and Greater Manchester Children’s Heart Unit.

Let us keep the heart of trade unionism beating, let us keep children’s hearts beating and let us build a socialist society to protect a publicly-funded NHS and vital public services, without which Mark Serwotka would not be alive today.

We need to keep our E C M O

August 29, 2016

Tories, closing our heart units down;
I said, Tories, they’re making us frown.
I said, Tories, vested interests abound.
We need to get very angry!

Children, born with holes in their hearts,
Fragile babies, who need the best start.
You can go there, and I’m sure you will find
Surgeons with skills to repair you.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygen,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Families, stay with their loved ones,
I said, families, we were all young once.
I said, families, with support and love,
We need to be there for one another.

No man, does it all by himself.
Don’t let Tories, put our hearts on the shelf,
We can go there, to the Glenfield Hospital.
I’m sure they can help you today.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

We need to keep our E C M O
We need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

Tories – when they make you feel blue
I said, Tories, pick yourself off the ground,
They don’t care, that children are kept alive
Their hypocrisy is so jive…

That’s why, we need our NHS Trusts,
We say, no more privatisation and cuts.
We have technology, called the E C M O
That can start you back on your way.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
It can help you to breathe, pump your blood all around,
It can help save your life.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Tories, they come in both blue and red.
I said, Tories, they don’t care if we’re dead.

E C M O, we need to keep our E C M O
Young child, young child, you didn’t have a good start,
Young child, young child, with a hole in your heart.

There’s a petition, you can find it online,
A petition, it won’t take you much time:
To MPs, although they are mostly scum,
But it might, just, get something done.

Sign the official Parliamentary petition here for a review into the closure of Children’s Heart Units, at the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, in Manchester and at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London.

 

 

 

Save Our Heart Units

August 29, 2016

http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=160455

Screenshot from 2016-08-29 12:07:21This is the map of a petition, which is calling for a review into the proposed closure of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre in Leicester. There is a large number of signatures from Leicester and the surrounding areas, but the unit serves the whole of the East Midlands.

Also, this is not the only unit under threat – similar facilities in Manchester and in London are also being axed, if the government get their way. I would like to see similar blobs of support around these cities too!

This is a nationwide issue, as five other hospitals have been told to stop doing simpler operations on children’s hearts. Children will not stop being born with congenital defects, such as a “hole in the heart” – and we need local services in order to protect people, so anxious families do not have to travel hundreds of miles to the nearest unit. More information can be found here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36737265

The NHS was founded to be a universal, comprehensive health service, to meet people’s needs, from “cradle to grave” – not to be cut back, fragmented and broken up, so profitable parts can be handed over to private companies.

Please sign the petition , and get involved in campaigns to save our NHS.

 

SUPPORT JUNIOR DOCTORS, SAVE OUR NHS!

April 10, 2016

 

nhs

Our NHS is under attack like never before, and we must act now to save it. As a worker in the NHS and a UNISON member, I chaired a protest organised by Leicestershire Against The Cuts last Saturday. Itbrought together campaigners from groups such as TUSC, the Socialist Party, Momentum, and Keep Our NHS Public, alongside trade unionists including the NUT, Unite Community and junior doctors from the BMA. We had a lively rally and march through Leicester city centre, with many students and young people raising their voices – we need our public health service to still be there for future generations.

People were angry that cuts are being made to local NHS services – the nearby Hinckley and Bosworth Community Hospital is earmarked  for closure and 400 beds are under threat at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, under the so-called “Better Care Together” programme. Health bosses say inpatient services will transfer into community care. However, community health resources are already paper-thin.  In reality, the NHS is being run down and privatised.

Junior doctors are striking to defend their terms and conditions, because they see the government’s attack on their terms and conditions as an attack on the whole of the NHS. A doctor on a picket line at Leicester General Hospital said that junior doctors are seen as an easy target, as their contract is up for renewal. Jeremy Hunt is seeking to impose a new contract, without any meaningful negotiation. Doctors do not want to go on strike, but when patient  care and the future of the NHS is at stake, they have no other choice.

Peter Flack, from the NUT union, mentioned the need for co-ordinated industrial action – teachers are currently being balloted for ongoing strike action, because of education cuts and the enforced academisation of schools. We believe that the big health unions, UNISON and Unite, should also beballoting their members. NHS pay has been frozen in real terms  for the last six years. Unite estimates that NHS staff have had a 13-19% pay cut as a result. Contrast this with the tax avoidance of the super-rich, exposed in the Panama Papers leak. The PCS union estimates that around £130bn a year is lost through  tax evasion – that is more than the entire NHS budget for England and Wales! Who does the most useful work in society, David Cameron or NHS staff?

Sally Ruane, of Keep Our NHS Public, pointed out the lack of resources put into public healthcare in the UK compared to other wealthy economies. The government wants to make the NHS a “24/7 service”, but are refusing to pay for this! The result is that if they get their way, doctors, nurses and admin staff will be forcedto work longer hours, for less reward. If you go to hospital,  you do not want to be treated by exhausted staff, who have to make life-or-death decisions.

Mark Gawthorpe, of Unite Community, spoke about the strain on the disabled and unemployed. The government’s cuts to disability benefit, are resulting in mental health problems and, tragically, suicides.  It is all right for tax-avoiding MPs, who can simply “go private”. What about the rest of us? The NHS is there for all, not just for those who can afford it.

It was good to see supporters of Jeremy Corbyn from Momentum on the demonstration – however, Corbyn faces an uphill struggle to reform the Labour Party, given that it was Labour who introduced Foundation Trusts, privatising  the health service, with increased spending on PFI. Unfortunately, Blairites are still in control of the Labour Party machine. Corbyn should look outwards to the 100,000s of people who joined Labour and were enthused by his socialist principles. His words  need to turn into action. Right-wing MPs and councillors need to be deselected and the Labour Party needs to be made more democratic. Labour should be opposing all cuts to services, rather than merely wield the axe for the Tories, which is what Labour-controlled  councils up and down the country are sadly doing.

Dr Jon Dale, a Unite member, concluded the rally by putting forward the Socialist Party’s alternative. We stand for investment into our healthcare service. We would scrap extortionate PFI deals, where health trusts owe private companies £billions. We would kick out the fat cats from our health  service by abolishing the Health and Social Care Act, which has opened NHS services up to tender to “any willing provider”. Richard Branson’s Virgin Health, for example, has taken over Wiltshire Childrens’ Services for £64m. We would nationalise  the pharmaceutical companies, which rip off the NHS by overcharging for medicine. We demand a publicly-owned, properly funded National Health Service, as envisaged by the Welsh socialist Nye Bevan, almost 70 years ago. The Tories want to get rid of the  NHS. If you want to protect our health service, join the socialists!

In support of junior doctors

February 23, 2016

As junior doctors gear up for more industrial action against Hunt’s imposition of a new contract, which threatens unsocial hours payments, this is the summary of a speech by Rob and Francis, two members of the BMA who spoke at a meeting of Leicester Trades Council recently.

If the media were to be believed, junior doctors should be grateful. They are reportedly getting a 13% pay rise, the reforms will bring about safer weekend working practices, and the NHS is becoming a 24/7 service, despite its staff being given no extra money. If this was true, there would not be a Minister for Health running the NHS, but a Minister for Magic!

In reality, doctors see attacks on their terms and conditions as the beginning of an attack across the whole of the NHS. This is being done in order to make the NHS more attractive to private companies, such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Health, who have recently landed a huge contract to provide care in the South West. This is being done in order to attack the principle of the NHS – that it is a nationwide, comprehensive healthcare service, provided for all and free at the point of need. The Health and Social Care Act has already taken away government responsibility for our health service – any “willing provider” can take over chunks of our healthcare system.

So it is not just that junior doctors and student nurses, whose bursaries are being removed, are angry for themselves. They are also concerned about patient care and the principle of a free health service, paid for through central taxation. However, on a personal level, they also have plenty of grievances against the government.

They are angry that they will have to work more night-shifts and weekends, that their working week will lengthen and their breaks decrease. This will have a direct impact on patient care, the morale of the profession and the health and stress of working in a hospital. It sets a precedent for the rest of the NHS and amounts to a substantial pay cut. Doctors who do voluntary or paid work in their spare time – manning an air ambulance, working as a medic on the sports field, or working as  a locum – will have to check if their employer needs them first.

This action is not just about a group of (justifiably) disgruntled employees – this is about the future of the NHS. So get down to a picket line at a hospital near you and talk to the doctors who are taking action. One day, your life might depend on them.

 

TUSC Parliamentary Candidate Pledges Support for the NHS and for a £10-an-hour Living Wage

March 16, 2015

Press Release:

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) today announced its second local parliamentary candidate for the General Election. Andrew Walton, who has lived in Highfields for the last 20 years, will be standing in the Leicester South constituency. He will be working closely with the present city councillors who are part of Leicester independent Councillors Against Cuts, which is affiliated to TUSC.

Andrew Walton picture

Photo credit – Mike Barker, Leicester Socialist Party

Having worked in the NHS for the past decade, I have direct experience of the attacks faced by the health service and its workers from both Tory / Lib Dem and Labour governments. “Unfortunately, the Labour Party’s role in promoting Private Finance Initiatives and Foundation Trusts handed large parts of the NHS over to privateers. Since then, the Lib Dem/Tory coalition has continued this trend”.

“TUSC on the other hand campaigns for a high-quality, free NHS under democratic public ownership and control. We see no future for greedy corporations and tax avoiders, like Boots, who make massive profits from health provision at our expense.”

Another key area which I will fight on as part of his electoral campaign, will be fighting for a living wage for all. TUSC supports the Trades Union Congress’ demand to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour, and for this to be linked to inflation or increases in wages, whichever is higher.

vote tusc

A recent article in the Leicester Mercury, highlighted the plight of over 2,500 textile workers in the city, who are paid less than half the minimum wage, just £3 an hour. “In the 21st century, in the world’s sixth wealthiest economy, there is no excuse for poverty pay,” he explained.

I will also pledge to campaign to relieve the day-to-day pressure on overworked front-line hospital staff. “This will improve service provision and minimise stress-related illness. This is one reason why TUSC stands in solidarity with workers taking action to defend jobs, conditions, pensions, and public services.”

If you are not on the electoral register, you won’t get any say in the coming elections. Please register to vote, and use your vote to support TUSC in Leicester South and Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts in the local elections.

Nothing like a cup of tea

October 27, 2014

marathon14

 

The best cup of tea I have ever had was served at 19 miles, as I was running in the Potteries Marathon (now sadly no more). This was not a cuppa from a plastic cup, but poured from a teapot into a pottery mug. The prize at the end was a plate, testament to the once-thriving pottery industry in the towns around Stoke On Trent.

Bosses at Leicester’s hospitals have decided that staff in public places are no longer entitled to have a refreshing cuppa. Doing a 12 hour shift on a hospital ward is much like running a marathon, except that nurses have to concentrate, calculate dosages, make potentially life-or-death decisions. I would much rather be treated by a professional who was alert and awake than someone nodding off at the end of a long day. Hypocritically, the same bosses acknowledge the importance of being well-hydrated and require staff to be alert.

Socialists would put an end to petty bureaucracy in the NHS, by increasing democracy and putting workers themselves in control. I did my bit to raise the profile of our party, by running the Leicester Marathon this Sunday, selling 40 copies of the paper and raising over £40 in fighting fund as I went round the course. There was not a cup of tea in sight as I went round the course, just energy drinks and water, but some caffeine would have been very welcome indeed.

TTIP? Nein danke. No thanks. Non merci. No, gracias.

September 2, 2014

Rub the lamp,

Say the magic words, “T T I P” . . .

Kazaam! A muscled, bouffanted behemoth,

A Tory-blue genie

To do the bidding of big business.

 

Billions in tax breaks,

But only for the rich.

We’ll have to survive

On zero hour contracts

And a minimum wage.

 

Gaze in horror

As democracy melts away

Before your very eyes,

And the NHS crashes and burns

In a bonfire of private finance initiatives

Taking us with it.

 

Look on, dumbfounded

As health and safety

Vanishes in a puff

Of asbestos dust.

 

Fancy a bit of fracking?

Worried about pesky red-tape?

Planning legislation?

TTIP makes it all too easy.

Obstructions obliterated.

 

Join the protestors.

Those fighting back

Defending hard-won rights.

Clean water, decent healthcare

A planet worth living on.

 

When we have no say,

We need to take back our voice.

Poor, weak as individuals,

But together

We can stop their supply at source,

Shudder the world to a halt.

 

 
little red little green

 

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu –  – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

TTIP? No thanks.

September 2, 2014

TTIP may sound like a new brand of tea, but in fact it is an acronym for the snappily titled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The idea is that to foster “free trade”, we need to get rid of costly things for bosses. Like nasty health and safety regulations, or pesky state-run institutions, all of which hamper companies’ ability to make profits. The solution? Get rid of any gains workers have fought for over decades in Europe and bring everything down to the level of the United States. The Land of The Free is currently languishing last in a new ranking system of countries’ healthcare – http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/us-healthcare-most-expensive-and-worst-performing/372828/ The bad news for the UK, is that the NHS is included in the TTIP deal, leading to further wholescale privatisation of our healthcare system.

Troublesome laws regulating use of land for extreme energy? Get rid of them at one stroke with TTIP! The agreement trumps European-wide legislation, allowing companies to claim billions in damages if their “right” to make profits is damaged. What about our right to clean, healthy drinking water or our right to protect our environment?

TTIP is profoundly undemocratic. Nobody voted for it, and we have no say in the negotations. This deal is being hammered out behind closed doors in Brussels. It was launched by EU President Barroso and Barack Obama. Paul Murphy (ex-Socialist Party MEP) has pointed out that TTIP is a “race to the bottom”, a corporate bill of rights, putting the rights of companies before the rights of ordinary people – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apP3WujWJOw

None of the main parties oppose TTIP.

So what can we do?

The need for general, co-ordinated strike action by the trade unions has never been greater.

The need for everybody to join a union and become active in changing right-wing unions into democratic, fighting organisations has never been greater.

The need to join a political party which is fighting to put an end to capitalism’s rush for profit at the expense of ordinary people has never been greater – http://www.socialistworld.net