Socialist Worker

Big march for the NHS in Newcastle

Issue No. 2595

Marchers know we have to fight for the NHS now

Marchers know we have to fight for the NHS now (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Over 1,000 people marched against the Tories’ assault on the NHS in Newcastle last Saturday.

The demonstration was organised by the North East People’s Assembly, trade unions and health campaigns.

It called for no cuts, no closures and no privatisation.

Campaigners celebrated their success at pushing back plans to slash services at South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields.

Health bosses had planned to shut inpatient stroke beds permanently and move the children’s and maternity emergency services to Sunderland, eight miles away.

But pressure meant that the Labour-run councils decided to refer the decision to the Department of Health.

Councillors at South Tyneside and Sunderland councils’ health and wellbeing scrutiny committees will now have to ratify the decision.

Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Tyneside, said, “The fight for South Tyneside hospitals is a fight for all of this. No hospital is safe under this government’s watch—there is an end game here and the end game is where our NHS no longer exists.”

The attacks are part of the Tories’ drive to push through the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).

Carving England up into 44 “footprints”, they aim to slash £22 billion from the NHS by 2020/21 under the guise of improving patient care.

Opposition from health campaigns pressured local, mainly Labour-run councils to come out against the STPs. The Tories have tried to get around this by trialling Accountable Care Systems in eight areas as part of the next phase.

Marches like those in Newcastle show that there’s a mood to fight around the NHS now, not just wait for a change of government.

nUnison union members working for Greater Manchester patient transport have voted by 100 percent for strikes on an 86 percent turnout.

Some of the workers are paid up to £2.40 an hour less than other similar workers, get fewer breaks and receive less sick pay. That’s because around a third of workers were hired on worse terms when Arriva ran the service between 2013 and 2016.

Unison had not announced dates for action as Socialist Worker went to press.

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