Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

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 –

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.

No more cuts – save our hospitals

January 27, 2014

My local hospital, University Hospitals Leicester, has had to apply for financial support from the government, after it has forecast going into the red this year by £40m. Tragically, it is planning to cut £45million pounds in a “cost improvement plan” in 2014. This will only mean the loss of more staff, and further exacerbate the problem rather than providing a solution.

Portering and estates staff have already been replaced by Interserve, a private company, which will look to profit by cutting staff costs, which means cutting jobs or not replacing people who leave. As a result this has meant more charges and bureaucracy and a poorer service. So called “backroom” staff are equally important in keeping hospitals clean, safe and infection-free.

Many hospitals across the country are in a similar situation. Crippled by exorbitant PFI (Private Finance Initiative) deals, many of which involve contracts of 30 years to private companies, much of the NHS is struggling financially. This is not surprising, as budgets have been frozen and not adjusted to meet rising costs and demands on the service.

The Con-Dem’s Health and Social Care Act has opened the NHS up to the private or voluntary sectors. The time of managers is diverted, not into improving patient care, but in finding ways to calculate waiting times to keep commissioners, the people who buy our service, happy. NHS staff are constantly faced with the uncertainty that their service may be taken over.

A recent inquiry into the failure of North Staffs NHS Foundation Trust, prompted by an increased death rate due to budget cuts, recommended an increase in qualified medical staff on wards. Yet hospitals are forced to rely on agency staff due to chronic underfunding. In Lewisham, 25,000 people marched last year to save their beleaguered Accident and Emergency service; they correctly blamed the government rather than staff for the NHS’s failings.

Despite pre-election promises that there would be no major re-organisation of healthcare, the Con-Dem government is opposed in principle to the idea of the NHS, and wants to hand over our hospitals to big business. They are trying to force hospitals to become Foundation Trusts, which can be sold off to any willing provider. Private companies can cherry-pick profitable parts of the service, while the state is left to deal with more complex cases. Yet Foundation Trusts were created under New Labour, who were also enthusiastic about PFI deals. They offer no alternative to save the NHS, and will need to be pressurised by mass action into even repealing the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act. When British Rail was privatised, Labour initially said it would be renationalised, but the party went back on their word as soon as they were elected.

The example of Lewisham shows that the public do not believe the government’s lies that cuts need to be made, and are prepared to fight to save services. The trade unions in the NHS should organise co-ordinated industrial action, along with other public sector workers, firefighters and civil servants, in defence of jobs and services.

The Socialist Party puts forward renationalisation of the NHS. We advocate a democratic takeover of our hospitals and a fully-integrated, nationwide service. The bureaucracy of tendering out services needs to go. We would invest in the health service and kick greedy fat cats out of our hospitals. We would nationalise the drug companies which make billions from inflated drug prices. Only by taking control of the running of hospitals ourselves can we have a truly efficient health service.

Warning: Foundation Trusts are dangerous to your health

April 13, 2009

The Fairy Tale

The Trust’s New Clothes
(with apologies to Hans Christian Andersen)

Once upon a time the managers of a hospital were approached by some government ministers. They said they had developed a wonderful new gold thread, which was lightweight, easy to clean and would eliminate hospital-borne infections. They demonstrated their skills in tailoring, but the managers were completely perplexed, as they could see nothing at all! Seeing their anxious faces, the government was at pains to put them at ease.

The ministers said that if the wearer could not see the thread, it showed that they were incompetent and unfit for their job. Not wishing to appear foolish, one of the managers said, “Of course – I was just admiring the exquisite texture of the cloth”. The others nodded their heads in agreement.

When the new uniforms were ready, at great cost to the hospital which had to make cuts to staffing levels in order to make ends meet, the managers queued up excitedly to try them on. They commented on the fine texture of the cloth, how well the uniform fitted and how practical it was. Each of them in turn was astonished to find that they could see nothing at all, but, of course, they were all afraid to speak out, so instead they all joined in the chorus of admiration.

To gain approval for the new uniforms, the managers had to parade around the county, showing it to all and sundry. Questionnaires were provided to let the populace know about the plans for the new uniform. Word had spread that only those who were incompetent could not see the uniform and everyone filled in glowing praise on the forms for the new designs.

As the managers were parading themselves proudly in front of a public meeting, a solitary voice piped up at the back, “But they have got no clothes on!”

The public saw through the ministers’ plans and fought back against them. They managed to repair their old uniforms, which had grown very threadbare of late, as the cloth had been stretched thinner and thinner to pay for the gold material. They protested and organised themselves to fight to protect the founding principles of their hospital – that care should be made freely available to all at the point of need, and that no-one should profit from the illness of others. They all lived happily every after.

The reality

A report by the Healthcare Commission into Mid Staffordshire Foundation NHS Trust found that receptionists were assessing patients in A&E, thirsty patients had to drink from flower vases, blood was left on seats in the waiting area and patients were left to lie in their own urine and faeces. This was due to staff shortages as managers cut services to the absolute minimum in order to pave the way for Foundation Trust Status.

Mid Staffs NHS Trust has been described as a “third world” hospital. Yet this is in one of New Labour’s “flagship” NHS Trusts. Foundation Trusts mean privatisation, more bureaucracy and meaningless targets rather than decent patient care for all. We need to campaign to scrap PFI and Foundation Trusts and end the parasitical role of the private sector in the NHS once and for all.

The NHS is not safe in New Labour’s hands

We need to fight to save the NHS. Anyone who is reading this who is a member of a hospital applying for FT status – please send them a letter saying you have changed your mind and want to leave. This awful policy can’t happen if we don’t sign up to it. Join campaigning groups such as Keep Our NHS Public and support political parties such as the Socialist Party and the health trade unions, who are campaigning to keep the founding principles of the NHS intact.