NHS and health

Editorials - March 1995

Editorial comments on the ongoing influence of Stalinism in the British labour movement, the need for a campaign to defend the welfare state, and calling for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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Pfizer drug scam

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has been fined a record £84.2 million for overcharging the NHS for drugs. Pfizer had increased the price it charged the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug by 2,600%! Though shocking, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Even without irregular price hikes and “unfair prices″ pharmaceutical companies regularly make many millions of pounds by patenting their drugs so cheaper versions cannot be made in competition.

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Cutting the NHS to the bone

Author: 

Gemma Short, Charlie Bell and Romesh Amaradeva

The NHS Bill 16/17 (formerly the NHS reinstatement bill) was due to have its second reading in Parliament on Friday 4 November.

NHS campaigners gathered outside Parliament to support the bill. The bill did not get discussed on that date and the second reading has now been rescheduled to 24 February 2017. The bill was presented to Parliament on 13 July by Labour MPs Rachel Maskell and Margaret Greenwood. The bill would restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of privatisation and marketisation.

NHS bosses across the country are quietly drawing up plans for hospital closures, cutbacks and radical reorganisations to cope with a projected £20bn shortfall by 2020.

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Court rules for Jeremy Hunt

Author: 

Gerry Bates

The High Court has ruled that Jeremy Hunt did not exceed his powers in ″imposing″ the junior doctors contract.

Ruling on a judicial review brought to the court by a group of junior doctors who formed the ″Justice for Health″ group, the judge ruled that Jeremy Hunt was not imposing the contract himself (which would be outside his powers) but ″encouraging employers to introduce it″.

The High Court has ruled that Jeremy Hunt did not exceed his powers in ″imposing″ the junior doctors contract.

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Court challenge against Hunt

Justice for Health, the group of junior doctors who have crowdfunded a record £300,000 (from 10,000 people) finally got their day in court today. It was part of a two-day judicial review into the legality of the Secretary of State’s decision to impose a contract upon junior doctors.

The official verdict is not expected until 28 September, and there is a further day of hearings to come as we go to press. The process will have been uncomfortable for the Secretary of State and his supporters.

The argument put forward by the Justice for Health lawyers is that Jeremy Hunt does not have the power to impose a contract on NHS employers or by association on junior doctors. The Department of Health lawyers argue that the Department of Health is not imposing a contract, simply recommending one.

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Junior doctors restart action

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens

Junior doctors will strike over the government’s imposition of an unfair, and unsafe contract on 5, 6, 7, and 10-11 October.Further five-day, all-out strikes on 14-18 November and 5-9 December are planned if the imposition of the contract is not halted.

A number of Constituency Labour Parties have submitted a motion on the NHS to Labour Party conference (24-28 September). The motion would commit Labour to “wholeheartedly supporting junior doctors’ and health workers’ fight to defend themselves and the NHS.”

Junior doctors will strike over the government’s imposition of an unfair, and unsafe contract on 5, 6, 7, and 10-11 October.Further five-day, all-out strikes on 14-18 November and 5-9 December are planned if the imposition of the contract is not halted.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Gemma Short and Charlotte Zalens

Campaigners have targeted Sports Direct ahead of the Annual General Meeting of the company due to be held on 7 September.

The company AGM will consider a trade union sponsored resolution which calls for an independent investigation into the use of zero-hours contracts in Sports Direct. Campaigners protested at Sports Direct stores in Grimsby, Manchester, Liverpool, Eastbourne and south London on Saturday 3 September holding banners reading #SportsDirectShame and ″stand with migrant workers″.

Sports Direct; Huddersfield A&E; London bus workers strike again;

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Doctors' strikes resume

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Junior doctors are to strike on 5-7 October, 10-11 October, 14-18 November, and 5-9 December to stop the government imposing its new contract. The contract, says junior doctors’ committee chair Ellen McCourt, “discriminates against carers, parents, doctors with disabilities and women”; it “devalues our time” and undercuts the specialties with most difficulties. It is linked to the government’s drive for a so-called “seven-day NHS”, i.e. with routine as well as emergency activities at weekends.

Junior doctors are to strike to stop the Government imposing a new contract on them.

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Renationalise the NHS!

Author: 

Pete Campbell, British Medical Association Junior Doctors’ Committee (personal capacity), Jill Mountford and Sacha Ismail

As we goes to press we await the announcement of further industrial action by junior doctors.

Throughout the last year they have at the forefront of exposing the Government’s desire to asset strip the NHS. Now leaked documents from the Department of Health have vindicated their fight; these documents show how disastrous the government’s plans for the NHS really are. During a year long campaign and eight days of industrial action junior doctors shouted loudly that the plan for a seven-day NHS was not safe or even unachiveable.

With the Labour right attempting to pose as the champions of the NHS, this is a crucial battle field not only in its own right, but in terms of the political future of the labour movement. Let’s create the mass movement which can save the NHS.

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Junior doctors: step up fight against the new contracts!

Author: 

Pete Campbell, BMA Junior Doctors Committee, personal capacity

I am the secretary of the Northern JDC. I voted against the contract, I ran a campaign against. I think it is discriminatory, unfair and does not address the issues and concerns of junior doctors. I believe that we need to step up our action against imposition.

Plans are being put in place; I will use my new position to argue that these plans reflect the views of the members. That imposition is not acceptable. That this contract is not acceptable and we must robustly face it down.

The NHS is under threat like never before. We need a BMA that champions universal healthcare, free at the point of use, paid for through general taxation and organised and run in the interest of patients not profits.

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