Over past few months, Leeds Keep Our NHS Public has been re-launched. The campaign was first established under the previous New Labour government to fight their cuts and privatisation which the Tories and their Fib-Dem lackeys are continuing.
Ian Pattison, Leeds City Socialist Party
During the 2010 general election David Cameron promised the maintain NHS spending, but there are to be £20bn worth of cuts in the NHS nationally that were initiated by the last New Labour government. In particular there is little support for Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill, which removes the NHS as the sole provider of healthcare, and opens up the prospect of profit-driven private companies bleeding the NHS dry on a scale we have never seen before.
Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) is facing losing 133 beds, and 700 jobs as a direct result of the cuts. Mental health services like Leeds Crisis Centre have been closed by Leeds City New Labour Council as part of their £91m cuts package. Also at LGI, the Children’s Heart Surgery Unit is set for closure which means that Yorkshire families will be forced to travel to Newcastle to access a similar service. At the same time, management consultants KPMG are being paid £93,000 a month to find cuts in Leeds NHS. We can think of one cut we would like to main straight away, the contract with KPMG!
That is why on Saturday 28th May, 200 NHS campaigners marched from the St James’ Hospital to the LGI. This is just the beginning of things to come. At the rally, we heard from Leeds NHS Midwife, Moira Mohit, who explained the importance of the NHS to her and how their staff is its lifeblood. Mental Health nurse, Marc Renwick, explained that cuts aren’t just happening in the NHS, but in Leeds for example, 3000 council workers face the chop, if we are to save the NHS we need to oppose all cuts. On the demonstration, hundreds of National Shop Stewards Network Save the NHS leaflets were given out to a warm reception.
To beat the Tories destruction of the NHS it will take more than just mass protests, a key part of fighting these attacks is health workers taking industrial action against cuts and privatisation. But given that Labour, Lib-Dems, and the Tories are united in their agenda, the ultimate privatisation of the NHS, some campaigners are also beginning to draw the conclusion that workers need their own political party. A party that opposes all cuts, that will fight for the NHS, and offer us a clear strategy that can stop the these attacks of cuts and privatisation and lead us to victory.
Leeds Keep Our NHS Public next event is a public meeting with gynaecologist, feminist, and NHS campaigner, Wendy Savage; Wednesday 1st June, 7pm, Leeds Council Chambers at Leeds Civic Hall.