Socialist Worker

Tories health 'reform' would sack one in eight nurses

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2247

More than 50 medical students organised a Keep Our NHS Public demonstration outside the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield on Friday of last week over proposed NHS “reforms”.
Rich Brown, who helped to organise the event, said, “This is not just abou

More than 50 medical students organised a Keep Our NHS Public demonstration outside the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield on Friday of last week over proposed NHS “reforms”. Rich Brown, who helped to organise the event, said, “This is not just abou


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has exposed Tory and Lib Dem lies about the NHS.

It revealed this week that one in eight nurses face the sack due to government cuts.

The RCN report warns that nearly 10,000 NHS posts in England will be axed by 2015 as bosses try to make £20 billion “efficiency savings”.

RCN chief executive Peter Carter, not normally known for his militancy, insisted that “industrial action must remain an option” for nurses.

He also warned that the government’s health reforms could become the “biggest disaster in the history of our public services”.

Matthew Hartley, a nurse and RCN rep in the north west of England, told Socialist Worker that cuts were already having an impact.

“We barely have time to do our jobs properly now,” he said. “It’s like we’ve gone back a decade to a time when nurses could only fire-fight problems on the wards.

“When bosses talk about 10 percent savings, nurses look around and think, ‘That means one in ten of my colleagues are going to be axed.’ Morale is at rock bottom.”

Matthew said many health workers fear the Tory drive to privatise the health service.

“The two-tier workforce has returned with private firms invading the NHS and paying rock bottom wages.

Safeguard

“Many trusts are saying that we have to accept being ‘down banded’ and losing pay, in order to safeguard jobs,” he said.

In a bid to divert attention away from the cuts, Matthew says NHS bosses are trying to set workers against each other.

“The talk of frontline and backroom staff is part of a divide and rule strategy.

“How can I do my job if there are no secretaries and no admin workers? Who will make appointments, file reports and update records?”

Matthew insisted that everyone who works in the NHS is vital and that every job must be defended.

“It’s harder to win back a post that’s been axed than it is to defend one that’s threatened,” he pointed out.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was sent into a panic last weekend as his chief aide, Norman Lamb, threatened to resign.

Lamb said the government’s plans to hand 80 percent of the health budget to GPs and private firms risked the break up of the NHS.

Widespread opposition has already forced the government to announce a humiliating “pause” in its policy while Clegg and health secretary Andrew Lansley launch a “listening exercise”.

The only way to ensure that the coalition hears the anti-cuts message is for workers and campaigners to step up their protests.


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News
Tue 12 Apr 2011, 18:33 BST
Issue No. 2247
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