Socialist Worker

Manchester health workers: ‘We won’t let them destroy this service’

Issue No. 2027

Protesting in Manchester (Pic: Colin Barker)

Protesting in Manchester (Pic: Colin Barker)

Over 100 nurses, occupational therapists, activities staff, senior support workers, team secretaries, day care staff, technical instructors and therapists lobbied the board of Manchester mental health and social care trust on Thursday of last week.

The health workers took the action as part of their campaign to fight massive cuts to local services.

The trust faces a deficit of £6.9 million and an annual “overspend” of £2 million, part of the financial crisis rippling through the NHS.

Proposed cuts include:

  • The loss of 33 nurses, six and a half occupational therapist posts and 12 support workers.
  • Possible closure of an old age assessment day centre.
  • Possible privatisation of four specialist community teams.

The trust has already lost 37 clinical posts since March this year. At the same time as it drives through the cuts, the trust is planning to put in place 24 extra managers.

One nurse told Socialist Worker, “Less of us working, with increased workloads - that means less care for each of our patients. In mental health, continuity of care is crucial. That will be broken, and more people will get ill.

“Do Labour care at all? They spend millions killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan, while cutting vital spending on the sick and vulnerable at home.”

Another nurse said, “The proposals are being presented as an improvement. But we would have twice as many patients each, so have half the time to provide care.

“We are not prepared to see our service destroyed. Not one members of staff supports these proposals.”

The government admitted last week that a third of NHS trusts across the country face end of year financial deficits totalling £1.2 billion. Since January, 21,885 jobs have been lost and 2,468 beds closed.

Geoff Martin of campaign group Health Emergency said, “Trusts have to balance the books by next March or face severe financial penalties from the government.

“With deficits still on course to top £1 billion, despite major cuts across the NHS, that can only mean panic reductions in frontline services this winter in a dash to balance the books.

“The health service is facing a bleak winter of escalating job losses and service cuts just at the time of peak demand. A severe cold snap or a surge in flu cases would tip our hospitals over the edge.”

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Article information

Sat 18 Nov 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2027
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