NHS workers are on strike today from 7am to 11am over attacks on their pay. Head down and show your support at the picket lines. The rs21 leaflet supporting the strike can be found here.
The NHS is at breaking point. Chronic underfunding and under-investment is putting patients at risk.
Instead of ending the scam Private Finance Initiative contracts that squeeze our health service, wages for NHS staff drop, and patients are treated with unsafe staffing levels. It is ordinary people who suffer.
The NHS needs to be properly funded. It needs staff who are motivated and fairly paid.
The government has again ignored the NHS Pay Review Body recommendation to raise the pay of 1% for ALL its staff.
Together, nine unions are taking strike action, rejecting the previous offer of a 1% pay rise only granted those in jobs with automatic progression pay. These include:
- Royal College of Midwives
- Society of Radiographers
- British Association of Occupational Therapists
- Managers in Partnership
However, it isn’t just health workers in these unions who want to stand up for their pay. The Prison Officers Association and Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians are also on strike.
Those on strike this Monday will also be taking part in a week long “action short of strike”, joined by The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association.
Strike for the NHS
Many are also taking industrial action to stand up to the root causes of underfunding: restructuring and austerity.
The Tory-led coalition, like the New Labour government before it, has tried to break away from the idea of the NHS as a public service, and replace it with a market system. The result is chaos. Different parts of the health service competing against each other rather than working together. Funds that should go to patient care are being eaten up by bureaucracy and profits to shareholders in private companies.
Meanwhile, politicians are blaming the problems in the NHS on vulnerable minorities. The 2014 Immigration Act outlines how the government plans to charge migrants for accessing GP and emergency treatment. This is already making people afraid to seek medical treatment. This is not cost effective: if diseases are left untreated, they may spread and become more expensive long-term problems. What these racist laws also fail to recognise is that the NHS only functions because of non-EU staff.
These laws attack the original values of the NHS, and aim to destroy the social solidarity it helps to create in our society. Health workers should not have to police the people they treat.
What can turn things round is united mass action by the people who use and work for the NHS. Crowds of thousands have marched for the NHS across Britain this summer. Grassroots campaigns in places like Lewisham have reversed hospital closure plans.
Our campaigns must also challenge the pro-market consensus common to all the main political parties. It’s no surprise that the Tories want to rip up the NHS. But Labour too has capitulated to neoliberal dogma and pushed through privatisation and marketisation.
We need an alternative to the capitalist ideas that dominate political thinking about healthcare – a socialist alternative. We need to reassert the fundamental principles of the NHS as a universal service that is free to everyone