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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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Peggy Carter, Gemma Short and Charlotte Zalens

On Tuesday the 13 January the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) branch of the PCS union voted by an overwhelming majority to call strikes over pay.

The ICO has been lagging behind civil service pay for some time, with members’ salaries a grade behind what the rest of the civil service receive.

Information Commissioner’s Office staff vote to strike over pay; Woolwich hospital workers continue dispute; Lewisham teachers' ballot against Academies; NUT DGS result; Lambeth College deal; No to outsourcing at National Gallery.

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NHS pay: what's been gained?

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens

As Solidarity went to press on 27 January, news of a deal on NHS pay had just been announced.

Unison, Unite, GMB and the Royal College of Midwives have all confirmed they have suspended strikes planned for Thursday 29 January to consult members on an offer from the government.

A GMB official said the offer included “the implementation of the 1% pay rise for all NHS staff from April 2015 plus some further improvements for the lowest paid NHS staff.”

The details are unclear. However initial publicity suggested that it includes:

It is clear to all that the problems within the National Health Service go much deeper than insufficient pay.

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Tax the rich to save the Health Service!

Author: 

Sacha Ismail

Spurred by waiting times in Accident & Emergency departments which are the worst since records began in 2004, the Tories have promised an extra £2 billion a year above inflation for the health service.

Labour says it will go £2.5 billion a year above that (funded by a mansion tax, a levy on tobacco companies and closing tax loopholes). Both are completely inadequate

NHS boss Simon Stevens says that the NHS will need at least £8 billion a year above inflation even with dramatic “efficiency savings” – by which he means attacks on NHS workers.

The labour movement must demand a thoroughgoing reversal of marketisation and privatisation, and adequate funding to rebuild the NHS as a comprehensive public service.

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Hartlepool hospital protest

Author: 

Alan Theasby

Hartlepool, a small once-industrial town in the North East, saw a massive demo on Saturday 10 January.
The local hospital faces closure and people are angry about it.


Sue Little has no experience of campaigning, but she was determined to kick up a fuss and organised a demo for 10 January. On the day, about 700 people marched four miles in blustery weather chanting "Save our hospital", "No ifs no buts no NHS cuts", and "NHS not for sale".

Sue Little is now organising regular "pickets" of the hospital.

Local hospital faces closure

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens, Rhodri Evans and Gemma Short

Health workers in Unison, Unite and GMB will strike for 12 hours on Thursday 29 January, with a planned follow up of 24 hours on Wednesday 25 February.

This follows a series of 4 hour strikes in October and November over NHS pay. Unions are also calling on members to “work to rule” for the days between the two strikes.

Health unions are calling for an immediate 1% consolidated pay rise for all NHS staff, with a further consolidated award for 2015-16 and future increases that they hope will restore the value of NHS pay.

Health workers to walk out; London bus drivers vote for strikes over pay; Waterloo rail cleaners suspend strike; Brighton mental health workers strike; Hands Off London Transport.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Sacha Ismail and Gemma Short

Over two hundred outsourced workers who are members of the GMB at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South London struck for 48 hours on 24-26 November.

On the 24th the workers, who are employed by Dutch multinational ISS as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters, struck alongside directly employed NHS staff striking for their national pay dispute.

Woolwich Hospital cleaners walk out; Care UK strikers agree to pay deal; strikes to defend victimised NUT rep suspended.

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Health strike gains momentum

Author: 

Todd Hamer

Health workers struck for a second 4-hour block on Monday 24 November.

Although the strike may not be the most militant on record, there is some evidence that the NHS pay dispute is gaining momentum and the unions are turning up new activists.

Despite painfully timid leadership, the dispute has become a rallying point for health workers concerned about NHS cuts and privatisation.

If it is going to grow and be successful then those new activists need to turn outwards and convince the large numbers of strikebreakers to join us and create a renewed union movement.

Health workers struck for a second 4-hour block on Monday 24 November.

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NHS: we need more than Efford

Author: 

Jill Mountford

Labour MP Clive Efford’s Bill on the NHS got through its second reading in Parliament on 21 November with 241 votes in favour and just 18 against.

It was a good though unexpected result, though nothing for the government to get worried about. There’s not enough time for the Bill to go too far before the general election next May.

The Bill gives an opportunity to have discussion and debate about what changes are needed to restore the NHS; and maybe to get a sneak preview of what Labour has in mind for the NHS.

Labour MP Clive Efford’s Bill on the NHS got through its second reading in Parliament on 21 November with 241 votes in favour and just 18 against.

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Health workers to strike again

Author: 

Todd Hamer

Health unions will stage a further four hour strike on 24 November in their ongoing pay dispute.

If we do not win a decent pay settlement and build a union movement capable of defending our already much degraded terms and conditions, then we will have helped speed on the end of the NHS as a free state-of-the art health service.

Since 2010 the NHS has been starved of £20 billion. By 2020 the gap between funding and necessary expenditure will be around £50 billion.

Health unions will stage a further four hour strike on 24 November in their ongoing pay dispute.

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