NHS news is dominated by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC) ‘March for an Alternative’ march and rally event on Saturday. It is estimated that some 500,000 people attended making it the biggest march since the anti-war protest of March 2003.
A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
A huge contingent of NHS workers joined the weekend’s march to highlight the serious threat to our health service posed by the government’s cuts and sell-off plans.
Midwives carried baby-shaped balloons, GPs came in their doctors’ garb while thousands of nurses and health workers snaked from London’s Embankment to Hyde Park in a sea of green and purple – the colours of their union Unison.
The demonstrators issued a stark warning to the Tory-led coalition to keep its “hands off our NHS.”
Over 1,000 Royal College of Nursing members marched through the streets of London last weekend to campaign against cuts threatening jobs and patient care across the NHS. The march, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), took protestors through Parliament Square and past Downing Street, to a rally in Hyde Park. The march was arranged to show the combined strength of feeling against cuts to public services.
RCN Chief Executive Dr Peter Carter joined trade union leaders at the head of the march before returning to walk alongside members. He said: “The fact that so many nurses marched together for the first time since the days of Margaret Thatcher is testament to the depth of their anger about these cuts. Nurses are facing a two year pay freeze and widespread cuts to jobs and services. On the ground, nursing staff are stretched to breaking point and we know that slashing huge numbers of frontline jobs is jeopardising patient care.”
Although the RCN is not affiliated to the TUC, it participated in the march to help expel the myth that NHS funding is protected, while nursing jobs are being cut and £20 billion in savings are sought in England alone. The RCN’s Frontline First campaign has already identified that 27,000 NHS posts are earmarked to be lost across the UK.
American film-maker Michael Moore has produced a message of support for UNISON and our NHS.
With characteristic flair, Mr Moore tells viewers that:
* the NHS is “so precious” and something “that you really invented and gave to the world”
* “For anyone to take that away now and put it in the hands of profit-hungry corporations would be the absolute worst thing to happen”
* In the US “the whole system is set up to motivate them [US health companies] to every day say ‘how can we make more money off the sick?’ “
* “you will rue the day that you allowed this to happen” to the NHS
* On Cameron – “you’re stuck with a guy now who’s got nice hair and rides a bike but, you know, he’s up to no good”
* Signing off: “hang in there, I’m with you”
A coffin will be paraded outside parliament today to symbolise the “death” of the NHS as part of a union protest against the government’s health reforms.
Unite has collected thousands of signatures against the Health and Social Welfare Bill which the union said will lead to the privatisation of large parts of the NHS.
The union will present a letter to the commons health select committee, which is scrutinising the Bill.
National officer Rachael Maskell said in the letter: “We are writing to urge you to protect the NHS from the savage and unnecessary reforms put forward in the Bill.
A coffin to symbolise the death of the NHS due to a surfeit of privatisation will be paraded outside parliament tomorrow (Tuesday 29 March 2011).
Unite, the largest union in the country, has collected 13,000 signatures to a letter to the committee of MPs scrutinising the impact of the Health and Social Care bill, currently going through parliament.
The coffin marked with NHS in white letters will be held by health campaigners mourning the death of the NHS at 12.30pm Palace Yard (next to College Green), Westminster SW1.
Health bosses fear Greater Manchester’s NHS will not achieve the government target to save £1bn by 2015.
In 2009, the M.E.N. revealed the region had to cut costs by £950m but Department of Health officials have now rated its savings plan and progress so far as ‘red’ or high-risk.
They also say it is crucial the health service in Greater Manchester and London hit their targets in order for the NHS as a whole to make £20bn savings in the next four years.