Socialist Worker

More 3 March protests after pressure from below

Issue No. 2036

The trade union day of action for the health service on Saturday 3 March is a great opportunity to unite health workers and campaigners on rallies, protests and demonstrations.

In many areas activists have had to push trade union officials hard to turn small lobbies into major regional action. Here activists report on what is planned so far.


Birmingham

Midlands TUC will bring East and West Midlands together for a major rally at lunchtime in Victoria Square, Birmingham. There is a lot of anger here about the merger of two hospitals that are part of the Sandwell and West Birmingham health trust.

We hope that the rally can bring together everyone who wants to defend our local health service and also act as a defence of the public sector generally.

Dave Hughes, president Birmingham TUC


Bristol

The unions which are part of the NHS Together organisation are planning a march and rally in Bristol to start at Castle Park at 12 noon.

Health workers are facing job freezes and efficiency savings as a result of the £100 million budget deficit in our two main health trusts. We hope that the demonstration will galvanise the anger of many NHS staff here.

It is also likely that protesters from nearby Wiltshire, who are fighting a raft of hospital closures, will also join our demo.

Chrissie Gardner, Unison senior steward, Central Bristol Health branch


Cambridge

We plan a demonstration in Cambridge for the whole of the eastern region of the TUC – I think it will be very well supported by both health workers and public alike.

There are cuts in the health service in almost every part of this area and we've had big demonstrations in Huntingdon and Felixstowe.

In such an atmosphere there is always a danger that the government and health bosses can try and play one hospital off against the others.

Now we have a chance to bring all the local campaigners together and say that we want all of our hospitals to be properly funded.

We need to put the principle of keeping our NHS public at the centre of the campaign.

Martin Booth, branch secretary, Cambridge Health Unison


Hampshire

We plan demonstrations in both Lymington and Winchester. The new NHS hospital at Lymington will be among the first whose running is handed over to private contractors.

Winchester and Eastleigh healthcare trust has accumulated debts of £7.6 million and is £2.2 million in the red this year. It is now proposing massive cuts.

Health workers here are angry and fed up. Now is the time to fight.

Bobby Noyes, chair Unison Southampton health branch


Manchester

Manchester will see a major demonstration that will unite health workers, users and members of the public. We are planning to make it big, lively and effective.

Caroline Bedale, branch chair of Unison, Manchester Mental Health and Social Care


North London

A demonstration to save Chase Farm A&E will leave the war memorial in Enfield Town at 2pm on 3 March.


South Yorkshire

Sheffield will see a protest organised by the main health trade unions. Local activists are preparing a major campaign against £9 million cuts at Sheffield Children's Hospital and a package of savings by Sheffield care trust that will cause one third of health visitors to lose their jobs.


Surrey

There will be a demonstration and rally outside St Helier hospital in Carshalton in protest at plans to axe 480 jobs and over 200 beds at the Epsom and St Helier NHS trust as part of a £24 million cuts programme.

Speakers will include John McDonnell MP – a candidate for the Labour Party leadership – and Geoff Martin from Health Emergency.


Salford, Greater Manchester

More than 50 health workers were joined by members of the Salford local government Unison union on a lunchtime protest outside the Hope Hospital where the maternity unit is threatened with closure.

Many protesters were worried that pregnant women in Salford would be forced to travel to either Bolton or Manchester for their care. A massive banana was inflated at as part of the protest in order to show that the cuts are 'bananas'.

Amy Leather


Maudsley

Over 100 people demonstrated on Wednesday of last week outside Southwark town hall against planned cuts to mental health services in south London.

The Maudsley hospital emergency clinic is particularly valued as people can attend it at any time without a doctor's referral. In a speech defending the service, social worker Sally Lynes said, 'It could be your children or your parents with a mental health crisis.'

Mary Phillips


North London

Muswell Hill & Highgate Pensioners Action Group handed in a petition to health secretary Patricia Hewitt on Thursday of last week, as part of a campaign to protest against the neglect of older people's services.


Hackney

Around 90 campaigners met in Hackney, east London, on Monday to fight local health cuts.

Homerton hospital, awarded the government's top rating, has had nursing and therapy posts cut or downgraded, wards closed or merged and maternity beds cut. Even tea and disposable gloves are rationed.

Health workers spoke out against the cuts and heard Geoff Martin from the Health Emergency campaigning group say that mass protest could defeat the attacks. The meeting resolved to hold a protest on 3 March.

Paul Morris


Tunbridge Wells

Cash strapped Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust in Kent is calling on nurses and other members of the health care team to 'donate' a day's unpaid work to help finance a new Private Finance Initiative development.

An internal memo leaked to the pressure group Health Emergency invites staff to contribute a day's free labour so the trust can save money.

Send your NHS campaign reports to reports@socialistworker.co.uk


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