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17 November 2021

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NHS workers must take action now to save our NHS

NHS demo, London, 3.7.21, photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demo, London, 3.7.21, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Student Nurse in London and RCN member

For many years the Tories have chipped away at the NHS, breaking off chunks to sell and pushing this vital public service to its breaking point. The Health and Care Bill, making its way through parliament, is the latest attempt to crumble and break our health service for further privatisation.

This new bill would make it easier for private corporations to be handed NHS contracts in England without other bidders even being considered. The NHS was founded on the principles of high-quality care for all, yet we can already see the impact that privatisation and budget cuts have had on care quality.

Patients are being forced to wait up to eleven hours in ambulances for admission to hospital and queues of up to 20 ambulances can be seen outside A&E. Bed shortages, budget cuts and a lack of staff are bringing our NHS to a critical point where it can no longer stay afloat.

Moreover, the Health and Care Bill seeks to create Integrated Care Boards, which set their own budgets with their own objectives - this could deepen existing regional inequalities.

On the wards and in NHS services, anger is rising among nurses over the pitiful 3% pay rise staff have been offered. Burnout and fatigue is increasing for workers who are constantly bombarded with unsafe working expectations and minimal pay.

Motivation is drying up, and more and more staff are leaving as the pressure becomes too much. Prior to Covid-19, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reported that there were 50,000 vacancies for nurses in the NHS and almost a quarter of nursing staff were thinking about leaving their roles. In 2020 the RCN reported that 61% of NHS staff stated that low pay was a reason for them quitting.

Under pressure from workers, the unions are beginning to get organised. The RCN is currently running an indicative strike ballot calling for a fully funded 12.5% pay rise, closing on 30 November. We need decent pay, to start to address chronic understaffing, and because prices keep going up! The best way to fight for that is to vote yes for strike action, for the health unions to coordinate their formal strike ballots, backed up by a campaign of workplace meetings and protests.

A campaign like this could win big support from the public, and unite workers with campaigners against the government's Health and Care Bill. Unite, another union in the NHS, is organising a protest against the bill on the 22 November when it is next debated in parliament.

Workers must use this as an opportunity to show our opposition to the fragmentation and collapse of our NHS through backdoor polices. If left unchecked, the Tory government will continue to take our NHS apart bit by bit and NHS workers will continue to leave. Workers must take action now so that we can preserve our NHS.

NHS workers ballot to reject 3%

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In The Socialist 17 November 2021:


Cuts drag NHS to brink

NHS workers must take action now to save our NHS

Outsourced Barts health workers in strike ballot for a pay rise

Health and care staff shortages worsened by Tory vaccine sacking threat

Fund the fight for socialism


London MPs' second home swindle while workers and students struggle

Tory sleaze scandal continues, an ex-workers' MP responds

University bosses' pay piles up while workers are forced to strike


Youth fight for well-paid green jobs and socialist change

Sunak's climate finance agenda typifies capitalism's COP26 failure


China: Bureaucracy grapples with new crises


Ten years on - where has Podemos's radicalism gone?

Belarus refugees - caught between a rock and a hard place

Workplace news

S Wales Stagecoach bus drivers win 10.50 an hour

DVLA ballot turnout falls short of threshold

Striking Scunthorpe steel scaffs up the ante

Leeds cab drivers protest against taxi rank move

Fresh strikes on East Midlands Railway

An appeal to trade union members to stand as anti-cuts candidates

Clarks workers fight 'fire-and-rehire' pay cut

London couriers take action

St Mungo's report fails to address bullying and victimisation of workers


Resisting evictions in east London

Leeds solidarity protest says stop Sudan coup

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Why am I coming to Socialism 2021?

Birmingham People's Budget

Readers' opinion

Readers' opinion


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Related links:


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Article dated 17 November 2021

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Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally, photo by Alistair Tice

Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally: Over 100 trade unionists and students in Sheffield rallied in support of the Just Eat delivery drivers on their 31st day of targeted strike action against company pay cuts. Photo by Alistair Tice

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