health & medicine

Community turns out en masse for Lewisham Hospital demo

The demonstration on Saturday 24th November against the closure of A&E and Maternity wards at Lewisham Hospital drew a huge turnout of between 10,000 and 15,000 people yesterday.
Seasoned older marchers agreed it was the biggest demo in the borough since the New Cross Fire of 1981 or Lewisham’s 1977 mobilisation against the National Front.
The numbers, in pouring rain and on the same day as a demo against the ongoing atrocities in Gaza, showed massive popular feeling and determination to fight the closure.
The crowd was very local and very diverse, all the different populations of Lewisham from the local pensioners forum to small woolly-hatted girls holding placards saying “I could have died by the time the ambulance reached Woolwich” walking alongside huge numbers of NHS workers.

Hospitals and clinics occupied all over Madrid as health workers strike against privatisation

Workers are taking action against privatisation plans in a wave of occupations of hospitals and clinics across Madrid, with massive support from patients and from the population of Madrid. Today a 48 hour strike in health care in Madrid saw 80% of workers on strike. This is just the first of four planned walkouts. Huge demonstrations in support of public health care carried banners like “Health care, we don’t sell it, we defend it.” and “100% free and public.” There have been other occupations outside Madrid, such as the hospital occupation in Zaragoza just before the general strike. A grassroots mobilisation called marea blanca, “white tide” has been building in health care for several months. The privatisation reforms would mean patients paying upfront to see a GP and to have essential treatment.

Seconds away, Round 5....

First we had the pay freeze, then came the pension cuts and re-banding of jobs. All the while we have also seen the privatisation aka ‘outsourcing’ of healthcare services and this continues abound. Now we have proposals for regional pay and changes to terms and conditions. Here in the South West, 20 NHS trusts have banded together to form a consortium designed to stitch us up further. Critics of the plans have described this consortium as a cartel. Their sinisterly named Project Initiation Document (PID) outlines the plans cooked up by senior health bureaucrats. 

It would be a mistake to think that the Consortium’s proposals are out of step with pressure on existing national pay agreements. Under the Agenda for Change (AfC) national agreement that currently governs pay and conditions for NHS staff, proposals have already been mooted by employers in the following areas:

Demonstration against NHS privatisation a success after Labour pull out

Around 50 people joined a demonstration outside the Royal Liverpool Hospital against the privatisation of the NHS. Members of Solidarity Federation, the Anarchist Federation, Women Against The Cuts and the Socialist Workers' Party were all present, along with a number of unaffiliated individuals who supported the cause. Despite the wind and rain, it was a lively gathering which drew in a fair amount of support from the public and service users.

Demonstration against Andrew Lansley

Today saw the start of the Royal College of GPs conference in Liverpool. Keep Our NHS Public held a protest outside the venue, the BT Convention Centre, as health minister Andrew Lansley was set to be the day's keynote speaker. Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation joined the action.

As the land was private property, the security had taken the trouble to set up a protest pen using steel barricades, in which the demonstrators were to be contained. Liverpool Solfed members and others were resistant to this, but too many of those who turned up complied willingly either by going inside or by keeping their distance from the centre whilst giving out leaflets. The minority who chose not to be caged - especially as there were no police present! - simply kept moving about so that they were never static enough to be herded back to the pen.

Where are the St. Thomas disappeared?

Fears are growing for the 72 immigrant workers detained by the UK  Border Agency  (UKBA) at Guy and St Thomas’ Hospital, London in Februrary.  Very  little is known of the whereabouts of the 72 disappeared, who had been contracted to work as ancillary staff in the hospital by Reed temp agency. 

The only definitive update to emerge since the raid is that three of them have pleaded guilty to ‘fraud’, a charge levied against  them for collecting their ‘illegal’ wages from the hospital (as if  cleaning toilets for minimum wage wasn’t bad enough).

'Workers are not criminals' demo, Friday 18 Feb 5pm at St Thomas Hospital

Where are the St Thomas' disappeared?

Where are our workmates?

Last month 72 workers disappeared from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. They were part of the hospitals’ ancillary staff. They are migrants. Where did they disappear to? The economic crisis means their cheap labour is not as useful anymore – at least for the moment. So the UK Border Agency was called in to get rid of them. The NHS trust complied. The workers were either arrested or deported.

The workers who clean the hospital and feed the patients earn around the minimum wage. And due to the UKBA the workers are not even always paid for their hard work. Isn’t this slavery?

Battle to Save GP Surgeries

Sixty years after its birth, the process of auctioning off the most profitable sections of the NHS is now well and truly underway. GPs who have traditionally run their own small, locally-based surgeries are now being forced to compete with huge international companies as a result of legislative changes introduced in 2003.

Our Health, our Care, our Say? You must be Joking

You must be Joking: reports and comment from the health and social care frontline

Putting Profits First

In the last couple of years, the Government has announced far-reaching plans to radically transform the way in which social care is delivered to vulnerable members of our community. With the Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper and “Putting People First”, plans to massively extend the use of individualised budgets and self-directed support schemes have been outlined.

So what does this mean in practice? And what are the implications for both service users and their carers?

Healthy outcomes

Health workers in Bolton and London have won important victories against the private hospitals group, ISS Mediclean.

After a series of strikes in London, workers at Whipps Cross Hospital forced a climb-down by the multinational's management over the imposition of pay and a two-tier work system (where those joining from the NHS had better contracts than those joining after privatisation).