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Doctors slam New Labour on health

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Issue 1756

‘Things can’t get any worse’

Doctors slam New Labour on health

THE DOCTORS’ British Medical Association denounced the government this week for underfunding the NHS and piling pressure on those who hold it together Chairman Ian Bogle told the doctors’ organisation’s conference:

“We in the medical profession, like our colleagues in the other health professions, were infused with optimism by Labour’s promises of regeneration and renewal. Four years on, our hope has turned to despair and disenchantment, our saviours have become our accusers, and our morale has been driven to distressingly new depths. Four years on, for doctors, things can’t get much worse. The time is fast approaching when we will have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to go on soaking up the pressure, filling the gaps where there are doctor shortages, and racing through four-minute consultations wondering afterwards whether we missed something.”

A string of doctors at the conference spoke out against New Labour’s plans for so called NHS modernisation. All pointed out that such schemes were a smokescreen for not funding the health service adequately.

The British Medical Association conference is an indication of the gulf between New Labour and those who work in the NHS. The government has responded to that by trying to turn public opinion against doctors, as it attempted to do with teachers.

No one should fall for health secretary Alan Milburn’s crude attempts to exploit medical tragedies to argue for privatisation and “modernisation” of the NHS. The fact remains that Britain is well short of reaching the European average figure for health spending.

The only way to reverse that is to begin taxing the rich-which New Labour ruled out doing in its manifesto.

More hot air from Bush

THE US under George Bush is pumping out gases that cause global warming at an accelerating rate. Bush has refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the main “greenhouse gas”. Last year the US output of the gas increased by 3 percent, twice the rate of recent years.

Global warming is already bringing climate change and threatens catastrophe. Yet in Britain New Labour is considering an even more damaging alternative energy source to burning the fossil fuels which produce greenhouse gases.

It is looking at proposals from British Nuclear Fuels to build at least four, and possibly up to six, new nuclear power stations. Nuclear reactors generate tonnes of radioactive waste, which remains highly dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Reactors are unsafe and there is a permanent risk of them exploding. And nuclear power is inefficient. British Nuclear Fuels lost 210 million last year.

Blunkett’s law

HOME SECRETARY David Blunkett has promised to create the largest ever police force, and to further harass people fleeing to Britain to escape torture and poverty.

In his first major speech in parliament as home secretary, Blunkett said he would:

  • Increase the police to 130,000 in England and Wales by the time of the next election.
  • Increase the pace of deportations of asylum seekers to 2,500 a month.

Dewar’s legacy

SCOTTISH FIRST minister Donald Dewar, who died last October, left a fortune of around 3 million. Dewar owned two large flats in Glasgow, a house in Stirling.

He also owned valuable collections of rare books and works of art. Nearly half his wealth was held in shares-including a 5,000 stake in Railtrack, 37,000 in Marks & Spencer and 285,000 in the Royal Bank of Scotland. No wonder New Labour does not want to tax the rich!

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