Socialist Worker

NHS round-up

Issue No. 2092

Protesting against the privatisation of GP surgeries in Camden, north London, last week (Pic: Guilhem Baker)

Protesting against the privatisation of GP surgeries in Camden, north London, last week (Pic: Guilhem Baker)

Protest just what doctor ordered

Respect’s Left List has helped launch a campaign to stop the takeover of three GP practices in north London by US multinational United Health.

Over 60 people, including local GPs, residents, patients and trade union activists joined a protest outside Camden town hall and then crammed into a council meeting.

Members of the board of the primary care trust came under attack for failing to consult patients and have been forced to call a public meeting at their headquarters this week.

Caroline Price

Protests at Virgin take-off

Scores of health workers and campaigners for the NHS protested outside Virgin Healthcare’s road show in Colgate, West Sussex last week.

Banners from the Unison union and Keep Our NHS Public greeted delegates to the meeting. Many stopped to let protesters know that they too agreed that the NHS must not suffer further privatisation.

One GP from Crawley said that he would allow privatisation of his practice “over his dead body”.

Venue managers were so enraged by the success of the protest that they called the police and demanded that everyone outside the venue be removed.

They’re failing, we’re paying

A string of private contractors running Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTC) in the NHS are set for a windfall – despite not having their contracts renewed.

The department of health last week admitted that the NHS would be forced to “buy back” the buildings used by 14 clinics whose contracts end in two years time, at a cost of £187 million.

The “buy back” clause was one of many inserted into agreements between the NHS and the private providers in a bid to “minimise the risk” to investors.

Pay ploy of the polyclinics

There are strong hints that the government intends to staff 113 new polyclinics with doctors who have yet to complete their training – establishing a new grade of doctor, below that of a GP, on much lower wages.

According to professor Chris Drinkwater of the NHS Alliance, which represents senior health service bosses, the plan would help the government deal with the “glut” of doctors set to complete their training this year.

“It is market forces,” he said. “If you’ve got an oversupply of doctors, you can force down wages.”

Cleaners protest at dirty deal

Around 700 cleaners protested outside Sheffield’s two hospitals last week over a decision to hand over some of their duties to the private sector.

Members of the Unison union picketed outside the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals.

A Unison spokesperson said, “Many of our members have been working as cleaners at the hospitals for 25 years. Now they are worried that this is the beginning of them losing their jobs.

“If enough members vote in favour of industrial action then we will follow that route.”

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Article information

Tue 11 Mar 2008, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2092
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