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Letters— New health act lets private firms into key NHS positions  

Letters from readers, including on the Tories' latest attacks on the NHS and an abortion rights protest in Glasgow
Issue 2084
NHS is to be broken up

An NHS protest in 2019 (pic: Diego Sideburn on Flickr)

The Health and Care Act recently received its Royal Assent. It means a massive transformation of the NHS is taking place, sometimes without any public consultation and with almost no political challenge. The English NHS has been broken up into 42 regions each covered by an Integrated Care System. 

This is supposed to mean more coordinated working between local government, social care services, hospitals and GP practices. In reality it will increase the power of private companies.  These firms will be able to sit on local NHS boards and committees, and play an important role in developing the new health systems. These companies have never been allowed on NHS boards before.

This is deliberately breaking up the NHS and facilitating the spread of parasitic private interests. The Act allows the Secretary of State to determine local changes including hospital closures, thwarting public consultation, and weakening the say local authorities and councillors have on NHS plans.

The changes aren’t designed to solve workforce problems or give the NHS the budget it needs to tackle the pandemic backlog and recover from years of underfunding. The NHS is visibly struggling, with over six million patients now waiting for treatment and cancer targets routinely missed. Waits of 12 hours or more in A&E are common. 

North East London Save Our NHS has discovered that the constitution for the new arrangement is not going to be subject to proper consultation.  We are calling on North East London Health and Care Partnership to consult about their planned constitution. We want to see a commitment to having no private companies, which have conflicts of interest, represented. This is going to be vital to protecting the interests of patients and the local community.

Janet Rowlinson

North London

Fight for abortion rights   

There was a brilliant protest in defence of abortion rights in George Square, Glasgow, on Tuesday last week. It was full of anger and energy from local activists. 

The protest was called as an instant response to the Roe v Wade laws potentially being rolled back in the US. We known that women there are already facing deep repression from the state assaulting their right to abortion. 

This has meant backstreet, unsafe, expensive abortions where women put their lives at risk. Women have also had to try and cross state borders to access abortion and face heavy fines if they are caught. This isn’t an issue for the rich who can pay and to some extent get round the laws. 

This is part of a continued attack on working class people and we have to resist it. The protest was called by Glasgow based feminist group Fanny Riot. They call for an end to attacks on abortions and an end to systemic sexism and oppression of all genders.  

Glasgow University Socialist Worker Student Society went down to support the protest and be part of the resistance. We want to help to increase actions like these, because we had to fight for our right to abortion in the first place. Now we have to fight whether it is in the US or anywhere else in the world  to keep it.

Lorna Mckinnon


How the rail strikers boosted a May Day rally    

The recent May Day rally in Brighton was galvanised when striking train cleaners, members of the RMT union, marched to it from the station. Their leading rep, Bella, was cheered to the echo when she said they wouldn’t go back until they had won their claim for £15 an hour, sick pay and holiday pay. 

Brighton Hove and District trades council organised the event which included speakers from the GMB and UCU which had been, or still are, locked in struggle with their bosses. The focus of the rally was the cost of living crisis, and the message to the government was, “We can’t pay, we won’t pay”. 

Other speakers included Stand up to Racism’s Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan, killed by racists 20 years ago. He spoke movingly of the struggle to bring his brother’s killers to justice. 

Steve Guy


Now government lets bosses keep tips

It’s disgraceful that the government last week shelved plans to make sure that workers keep their tips. 

This is what they first promised six years ago and they’ve done nothing. Business minister Paul Scully announced in September that the government would take action to make it illegal for employers to withhold tips from workers. 

But government insiders said that the plan had been dropped from the Queen’s Speech that was due this week. Every rotten employer will be celebrating. They will now still be able to cream off a share of the tips rather than passing them on to the people who actually do the work and provide the service. Scully had claimed originally that his scheme would help 2 million workers. 

Well, if these rumours are true then he’s just robbed 2 million workers of what they were due.

I don’t trust any boss to share out the cash among the workforce. It will be siphoned off to management. It’s even worse than it used to be because 80 percent of tipping is now on cards and invisible to workers.

Carole Atkinson


We need more like Chep UK

It was great to read about the victory by workers at Chep UK after their long strike battle (Socialist Worker, 4 May). Everyone who supported them on the picket line or sent a donation can feel proud that they were part of the battle that should inspire lots more fights.The cost of living crisis becomes deeper by the day. 

It won’t be solved by voting for Labour but only by real struggles like the one at Chep. The strikers should get out around Britain taking out the message of resistance.   

Joe Hegarty


Who should be deported?

The Tories’ supposed aim in deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is to “break the people smugglers business model”. Shouldn’t they be deporting some cabinet members and City bankers to break the cocaine smugglers’ business model?

Andy Pettit 


Starmer is a party despot

What a despot Keir Starmer is in threatening MPs who may be critical of Nato.

Doesn’t he think he should consult the whole membership? What makes him think that his personal views must be imposed on the whole Labour Party? He is the wrong leader for the party.

Jasmine Greenwood  

On Facebook

Britain close to fascism? 

Arguably we have a proto-fascist government in Britain. Free speech and the right of assembly and protest are being removed right now.  Trade unions are passive and cautious. 

The Labour Party is not contesting the most dreadful reactionary legislation.  The left is divided and sectarian and steadfastly ignoring the need to unite.

Philip Foxe

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