Socialist Worker

Join the fight to save the health service

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2250

Dozens of hospitals already struggling to cope with the government’s crippling financial demands will be forced to slash even more jobs and services.

The devastating news follows a warning from Monitor, the regulator of NHS foundation trusts in England. It says department of health demands for £20 billion of “efficiency savings” this year are an underestimate.

Monitor says that health bosses must now slash their spending by 7 percent a year for the next five years, not the 4 percent previously expected.

The nurses’ RCN union has identified almost 40,000 NHS posts across Britain that face being lost—up from the 27,000 it reported in November. That figure could now rocket as health trusts seek more cuts.

In a taste of things to come, Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust last week admitted that it would be axing 300 beds and closing ten wards in a bid to save £95 million by 2015.

Ray Gray from the Unison union described the move as “appalling”.

“You can’t take away 20 percent of a major hospital’s beds and say it won’t affect care,” he said.

Patients across Britain are already being denied new hips, weight loss operations and even cancer treatment due to NHS penny pinching.

More cuts will now mean even longer waits for those in pain.

The government’s health bill— currently stalled by a “listening exercise”—can only make matters worse. The Tories want to give private healthcare multinationals the right to cream off profits from the health service.

They will likely be handed the job of spending up to 80 percent of the NHS budget when GP consortiums take over “healthcare commissioning” from primary care trusts.

The private sector vultures will also run services that compete against those provided by the NHS in a bid to undercut them.

That’s why campaigners across London are building for a major protest on Tuesday 17 May against the health secretary and his plans.

Health workers, medical students and patients together can turn the issue of NHS cuts and privatisation into the issue that finally breaks the coalition.

For more on the London demo and fighting NHS cuts, see May Day marches show the anger against Tories

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Tue 3 May 2011, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2250
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