Socialist Worker

Healthworkers lobby parliament

Issue No. 2025

Thousands of health workers descended on parliament on Wednesday of this week for a lobby of MPs.

The lobby, called by the NHS Together coalition of unions and other bodies representing NHS staff, called for a changes to government policy.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said that the historic lobby had been called because “the NHS is in crisis, threatened as never before”.

Speaking at a rally in Westminster, he reflected on the series of rallies and demonstrations that have taken place up and down the country to oppose job losses and service cuts.

“Ordinary men and women are marching in their thousands - in the past four months over 100,000 have marched to defend their service,” he said. “Sometimes they have even been joined by ministers.”

But, he said, it was hypocrisy for MPs and ministers to march to save services in their constituency if they are the same “people who vote in parliament for the policies that lead to cuts in services”.

Tony Gannon, a member of the T&G union, travelled to London from the Wirral, Merseyside.

“I work in the supply store and I’ve worked in the NHS since 1971 - I can still remember when the unions were very powerful in the 1970s,” he said.

Tony had direct experience of cuts to services at the two hospitals where he is based. Like many of those at the lobby, he said he could see little sign of the money the government says has been pumped into the NHS.

“New Labour promised to make health service a priority,” he said, “but now all the money is going to management - not towards caring for patients.”

Pauline travelled to the lobby along with members of Worthing branch of Keep Our NHS Public. She attended a hundreds-strong march organised by health campaigners before the lobby.

“They are talking about cutting accident & emergency services at Worthing,” she said. “They are talking about shutting our local hospital, Southlands.

“If they make these cuts, people will have to go to Brighton or Chichester for emergency services, and these are also being threatened.”

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Article information

Sat 4 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2025
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