Socialist Worker

Austerity is fuelling NHS crisis—but bosses plan even more cuts

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2447

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt (Pic: Ted Eytan)


David Cameron last week pledged to bring in a “truly seven-day NHS”, if the Tories get back in—by smashing health workers’ pay structure. 

The plan to bring in seven-day working was first proposed last October by NHS England boss Simon Stevens in his Five Year Forward View.

It was drafted after he admitted the health service is facing an £8 billion black hole. Now bosses want to get more out of workers for less. 

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he would give the NHS an extra £8 billion—but only while cutting it by a further £22 billion. 

Bosses will have to dismantle workers’ pay structures in order to bring in seven-day working. 

The Department of Health has submitted evidence to the pay review body which includes the option to scrap unsocial hours pay altogether. 

There’s nothing wrong with seven-day working in the NHS. But the Tories’ plans are about smashing health workers’ pay and creating a more “flexible” workforce with fewer rights. 

It’s part of the attack on the NHS as a whole that is plunging it further into crisis. 

A recent report by the Kings Fund health think tank said that the NHS is deteriorating in a way not seen since the 1990s.

It says workers are struggling to provide quality of care in Accident and Emergency and for routine operations. Health trusts’ deficits are also ballooning. 

Labour has pledged to repeal some aspects of the hated Health and Social Care Act. 

Yet it is still committed to Tory cuts and won’t roll back privatisation. 

But there’s a mood to fight for the NHS. 

Up to 1,800 people marched against NHS privatisation in Leeds and around 700 in Nottingham. 

In Dundee hospital porters in the Unite union fighting over pay are set to go on indefinite strike from 7 April. We need to generalise that fight. 

The leaders of the health unions said they would fight over unsocial hours. Now that Cameron has announced the attack, it needs to be met with a serious response. 

 


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Tue 31 Mar 2015, 15:59 BST
Issue No. 2447
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