Socialist Worker

'We're going to fight NHS cuts,' activists vow as health bosses get worried

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2539

A protest to defend the NHS in London last week

A protest to defend the NHS in London last week (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Health bosses have hired “bouncers” to shield themselves from growing anger at consultation meetings

Bosses at Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spent £4,800 on a private security firm for meetings discussing their Clinical Services Review.

At a 120-strong meeting in Poole, six bouncers were shipped in.

Damien Stone from the local Keep Our NHS Public group said, “To spend nearly £5,000 on security is scandalous.

“They say they welcome all views but having intimidating heavies on the door isn’t really sending out that message.”

If the attacks are pushed through, the 13 community hospitals would be slashed and replaced with seven “hubs”.

The review is a key part of the local plan for the Tories’ Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), which would axe hundreds of hospital departments and services.

They divide England into 44 “footprints”, with the aim of slashing £22 billion by 2020. The Tories claim that “consolidating” and “centralising” services is necessary in order to improve patient care.

While some high end treatment—such as heart surgery—is best provided in large hubs, the Tories are planning wholesale cuts.

Every week there is another revelation about the scale of the NHS crisis.

But opposition to the STPs is growing, with local groups springing up to oppose them.

Around 170 people joined a “howl of protest” opposite parliament in central London last Saturday.

Closed

It included a coach load of activists from Grantham in Lincolnshire. Stephen from the local campaign told Socialist Worker, “Since August our accident and emergency department has been closed for 14 hours each night.

“Now they’re discussing downgrading it to an urgent care unit.

“If that happens the nearest A&E will be Lincoln, which is 24 miles away on poor rural roads.”

Hundreds more joined howls of protest in Liverpool, Leeds and Barnstaple in Devon.

Activists also held a “die in” in support of the NHS outside Manchester Royal Infirmary at the same time as the howls last Saturday.

Health campaigners are now building for the national demonstration in defence of the NHS on 4 March, which has been called by Health Campaigns Together and supported by the People’s Assembly, the Unite union and—agreed last week—the Unison union.

Charlotte from the Horton hospital campaign in Berkshire told Socialist Worker, “We’re hoping it will be another poll tax.

“When enough people say no, the government has to listen.”

Stephen added, “It needs to be bigger and louder than ever before so we can force the government to change track.”

A number of local councils have refused to sign off on the STPs, which is a major roadblock to the Tories’ plans.

Health campaigners are now pushing for those Labour councils to support the demonstration.

The whole Labour Party—and other union leaders—should support and practically build the demonstration.

For more on the 4 March protest go to healthcampaignstogether.com

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.