Socialist Worker

Act now to save the NHS

by Karen Reissmann, branch secretary, Manchester community and mental health Unison (pc)
Issue No. 2040

Karen (centre) protesting with other health workers in Manchester  (Pic: Colin Barker)

Karen (centre) protesting with other health workers in Manchester  (Pic: Colin Barker)

I urge every reader to be part of the protests in defence of the NHS this Saturday. The marches, rallies and stunts taking place must mark the beginning of a tidal wave of action that can shake the government.

Today the NHS is facing some of the ­biggest threats in its existence. The free market has been allowed free rein and privatisation stalks every part of the ­service.

The government has encouraged profit-taking firms to lap up resources that should be directly benefiting patients.

The resulting cash crisis means that hundreds of hospitals, wards and units are threatened with closure.

Of course, the money needed to reverse the cuts pales into insignificance when compared to the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to the cost of replacing Trident nuclear missiles.

This point is not lost on all those who are fighting proposed closures. In towns and cities across Britain there are angry public meetings, demonstrations and rallies.

Bosses at the trust that I work for threatened cuts and redundancies – but we decided to fight back with strike action.

Last week I proposed a motion for a national demonstration in defence of the NHS to the health executive of Unison, Britain’s biggest health service union. The motion was passed with a clear majority.

That national demonstration must become the point at which the tables start to turn on those who would like the NHS to be reduced to a “badge” put on a range of health services provided by private firms.

The stage is now set for a historic ­showdown. On the one side sit the privateers, the profiteers and the cutters.

On the other side are patients, health workers and trade unionists. For all those who fought for this service, and for all those who will benefit from it in the future – it is us who must win.

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