Socialist Worker

March for NHS could launch movement against Tory health plans

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2544

Resistance is already growing to the Tories STPs

Resistance is already growing to the Tories' STPs (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Tens of thousands of people will take to the streets of London today, Saturday, in defence of the NHS.

Called by Health Campaigns Together, it is backed by the People’s Assembly and the Unison, Unite and GMB unions among others.

Dave Prentis, the leader of the largest health union Unison, said, “The NHS is in crisis, there has to be an urgent injection of cash now and a proper plan for the future.

It’s not good enough for the government to say it is investing in the NHS when all around services are being cut back.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are also expected to speak at a rally in Parliament Square.

Coaches are coming from across Britain including from, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Southampton, the Isle of Wight and dozens of other towns and cities.

The demonstration comes just as the Care Quality Commission (QCQ) chief Mike Richards warned that the NHS was “standing on a burning platform”.

Inadequate

The CQC watchdog latest inspection rated that two-thirds of hospitals are “inadequate” or “required improvement” and four in five are failing on patient safety.

Not a single trust was rated outstanding for safety.

This is just the latest sign of the deepening crisis in the NHS—and that will only be made worse by the Tories’ latest plans.

Dividing England up into 44 “footprints”, the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) will slash hundreds of hospital departments and services. Their aim is to slash £22 billion from the NHS by 2020 under the guise of improving patient care.

The Tories claim that by “centralising” and “consolidating” services into large hubs they will improve patient care. While it’s true that some procedures, such as dealing with stroke patients, are best done in larger hubs, the Tories plan wholesale cuts.

The plans are premised on shifting the burden of care onto “primary care” that’s provided in the community. But the Tories have butchered local authorities’ social care budgets, fuelling the NHS crisis.

The Tories are trying to turn people’s anger against migrants by smearing them as “health tourists” who put a strain on the NHS.

To beat the Tories’ attacks, we have to unite against their attempts to divide us. There is already growing resistance.

Health campaigners have forced some, mainly Labour-run, local councils to refuse to sign off on the STPs. This is a major roadblock to pushing them through and more councils should be pushed into doing so.

The national demonstration today has to be launch-pad for a mass movement in defence of the NHS.

Join the demonstration, starting 12 noon, Tavistock Square, WC1H 9EZ

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