Socialist Worker

As cuts cause growing crisis in the NHS - strikes can defend the health service

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2521

Junior doctors picket at Whipps Cross Hospital in London during a previous strike

Junior doctors picket at Whipps Cross Hospital in London during a previous strike (Pic: Esme Choonara)


The NHS crisis is so deep that even top managers say it is near breaking point.

NHS Providers represents hospitals across England. It said years of underfunding have left the service facing “impossible” demands.

Without urgent extra investment in November’s Autumn Statement it will have to cut staff, bring in charges or introduce “draconian rationing” of treatment.

Figures have revealed that a record number of patients are on waiting lists in England—3.9 million.

The most effective form of fightback at the moment is the junior doctors’ battle.

Yet the British Medical Association (BMA) suspended a five-day walkout that was set to begin on Monday of this week. The action had been attacked by the media, the Tories and some of the medical establishment.

But five-day strikes planned for October, November and December are still on. It’s vital for trade unionists to build solidarity now.

Around 50 people joined a junior doctors’ support group meeting in Brixton, south London, last Friday.

Junior doctor Chris James said, “We shouldn’t apologise for industrial action.

Apologies

“We have to apologise for so much already such as A&E waiting times and we’re out of apologies. It’s time to do something about it.”

He added, “There is still a lot of fight left, we just need a bump from community support.” 

Chris Kelly, an NUT union member, said, “During the last strike I went around the bus garages with junior doctors.

“We talked with bus workers in the mess rooms. That was really successful—we now need to get junior doctors into as many workplaces as possible.” 

Faye, a Labour Party member in Putney, told Socialist Worker, “The members I’m speaking to fully support the junior doctors and industrial action. We’ll be going to the picket lines.” 

Junior doctors who came to the meeting left feeling more confident.

Ash, a junior doctor at St Thomas’s Hospital, told Socialist Worker, “A lot of people were unsure about the industrial action when it was announced.

“But that’s been changing because people are talking about it—it’s back on the agenda.”

Junior doctors need to keep pressure on the BMA to go ahead with the industrial action. Hard-hitting strikes can beat health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s attacks on workers.

As junior doctor Ruhe Chowdry said, ‘We’re the ones who work—we’re the ones who have the power to stop this.”

Junior doctors plan a full withdrawal of labour between 8am and 5pm on 5, 6 and 7 October and then 10-11 October, 14-18 November, 5-9 December

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