NHS

The Alarming Rise of Branson's Virgin Care and the Threat to the NHS

Good old Sir Richard Branson has once again managed to get himself to the front of the queue for state handouts. Having spent years channelling public money into massive profits at Virgin Rail, he is now turning his attention to milking the NHS. Figures released in January 2018 show that his company, Virgin Care, won a record £1bn worth of NHS contracts in 2017. Added to already existing contracts, this means that Virgin Care now has over 400 separate NHS contracts. Funny how these arch free market capitalists, such as Branson, seem to be able to swallow their anti-state principles when it comes to claiming state subsidies. Good old Sir Richard even took this to the extent of suing the NHS in 2017 when Virgin Care lost an £82m contract. In the process he won an undisclosed sum that otherwise would have been wasted on treating sick people. 

Health & Social Care crisis: voting won't solve it !

Our NHS is in crisis: doctors' surgeries in Brighton are closing down, A&E waiting times are getting longer, hospitals are shutting up shop - and the sick and old are being left to die on hospital trollies.

The care system is in an even worse state: poor wages and criminal working condition mean there just aren't enough carers.

Here in Brighton most council contracts are privatised, and carers are often employed illegally: paid below the minimum wage, denied paid holidays, being forced to work long and unpredictable hours on zero-hours contracts and left to work without adequate training or supervision.

Of course the price of this isn't just being paid by the health and social care workers at the sharp end, it means health and care services are getting worse for all of us.

Sucking the NHS Dry: it’s not the Migrants, it’s the Capitalists

The media has recently been escalating the migrant bashing with the claims that health tourists are plunging the NHS into crisis by not paying their bills.

This distracting technique pulls our gaze away from the more obvious strains the NHS is facing. With flat lining NHS funding (although the government are putting “more” money in this is not inline with increasing inflation and demand), cuts in social care, along with crippling Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) with extortionate interest rates and massive management consultancy fees, there is no wonder health services are finding that there is not enough money.

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.

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.

Industry focus: NHS privatisation in the West Country

In 2009, the Labour Government launched its ‘Transforming Community Services’ policy for public healthcare. PCT boards were instructed to evaluate their provider services and consider a variety of models for future service delivery. One model much favoured by the current coalition Government is social enterprise, defined as ‘businesses established to address a social or environmental need’.