NHS hospital's critical state
The heartbreaking and lonely death of 74 year old Thomas Rogers at Whipps Cross accident and emergency last week is a terrible tragedy for his family. His death is also a demoralising blow for the staff. Whipps Cross A&E is infamous for being badly understaffed to anyone who works there or uses it.
Staff are under incredible pressure and, needless to say, underpaid. The staff shortage is so bad that the health service is advertising worldwide for doctors and nurses.
Understandably, Mr Rogers' family want a full inquiry into the circumstances of his death. But there is another inquiry that Tony Blair needs to answer. Why does Blair continue to suck up to private companies and put our public services in their greedy profit-making hands?
Blair and his private industry cronies don't even seem concerned that people die as a direct result of their policies and profit-making schemes. What I know of the hospital I work in is that the nurses, doctors and supporting staff are hard working and dedicated.
All they want is the opportunity to provide the kind of healthcare and attention to patients that they know is possible.
There is no way we will be seeing Tony Blair sitting in our A&E waiting for five to 11 hours. Knowing this, I would much rather listen to the people who do the jobs within the health service, fire service, railways and tubes than the likes of Blair and New Labour.
Recent trade union disputes should show New Labour that they ignore us at their peril.
- HEALTH WORKER, Whipps Cross Hospital
New Labour's empty promises on education
I'M NOT surprised there are thousands of university places empty. New Labour have done nothing to help students who are from working class families and are not well off.
Amongst school leavers like me there is widespread disappointment and cynicism. The amount of debt you leave university with is around 15,000. It's really scary. Not having enough money while you're actually at university is the main reason people drop out. I'm 18 years old and I went to a comprehensive school. In the past someone like me would have got a grant to go to university because I'm from a lone parent family, but not now.
Many students at my school cannot afford to go to university. I have been offered a place to study maths at university. I will not be going this year. One of the main reasons is that I plan to take a year off to work and save a bit of money.
- JOSEPH CLARK, East London
Build the union
LAST SUMMER two London housing associations merged to form one new company, the St Pancras and Humanist Housing Association. One of the original companies was well unionised and the other was not.
After the merger less than 40 percent of the workforce were unionised. Company bosses threatened to derecognise the union and end collective bargaining. Over the past few weeks rank and file UNISON members have led a recruitment drive, and have now boosted union membership above the 40 percent threshold.
Many workers were won to the idea of collective strength, despite never having been in a union before. Our first victory is that the company has backed down and the union will remain recognised.
- VINCENT DAWES, London
IT IS about time that people this side of the Atlantic took the Vieques question seriously, and Sam Ashman's article in Socialist Worker on 18 August was brilliant. The point is that the area used in the military exercises is the central zone of an inhabited island. Local fisher folk face the direct risk of unexploded ordnance.
Islanders are also exposed to toxic materials used in the munitions and are forced to live with the results of the damage to coastal ecology. The anti-imperialist nature of the campaign to close the US bases on Vieques is clear. The island has been used to prepare invasions in South East Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Given the renting of the zone to the NATO troops we can easily build a lobby aimed at Tony Blair and the Ministry of Defence-not that we'd really expect them to even distance themselves from the war aims of the Pentagon. Check www.viequeslibre.org for updates of the ongoing situation.
- JOHN JOHNSON, Chelmsford
Hit the bottle
A PAMPHLET which effectively advertises the Cow & Gate brand of baby milk was on display in my GP's surgery. The brochure promotes joining the "in touch" service for pregnant women. This service offers information to mothers about breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
The push towards commercial sources of advice and information to new parents gives a taste of what the neo-liberal agenda means.
- NICK SAVAGE, Cambridge
Hate Mail case
MOHAMMED AND I were extremely pleased by the support from everyone who joined the protest against the Daily Mail smear stories outside its offices last week on Wednesday. The story of Mohammed not only highlights the way in which asylum seekers are treated but how disabled people are treated.
Mohammed fled South Lebanon and sought asylum here. As a result of being tortured he is physically disabled. Westminster council placed Mohammed in an inaccessible bed and breakfast. Mohammed was forced to drag himself up the stairs at the front of the building and crawl to his room on the second floor.
His pleas to be moved were ignored. Westminster council did nothing until the B&B was closed down. Westminster council placed him in a four-star hotel. This was leaked to the Sun newspaper, who approached Mohammed in the hotel. The journalists promised to help Mohammed with his asylum application if he posed in a photograph. Sensationalist stories were printed in the Sun, the London Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. Most dangerously they disclosed his address, name and picture.
I pleaded with the Mail journalist, Graham Keeley, not to print Mohammed's picture. We explained we feared for his life. I was told, "The taxpayers deserve to know." I warned the journalist this publicity risked encouraging racial violence towards Mohammed. Within hours Mohammed had abusive phone calls and harassment on the streets.
Westminster council said they would do "nothing" about Mohammed's identity being disclosed by newspapers. They believe the situation will go away if we stop protesting. Well, we're not going anywhere.
- MARYANNM ZONOUZI, London
A bit of care
A HUGE thank you to the Socialist Workers Party and Lambeth Socialist Alliance for including me, and giving me and others a forum to protest and campaign. In particular as someone with a mental health difficulty, I congratulate you for speaking out against cuts in community care day centres.
- MICHAEL FRANCIS, South London