On Tuesday 2 April, a bright but cold morning, many of us met up at the kremlin like edifice of Media City in Salford. The staff going in to work avoided us, thinking that we had come to protest at them as BBC workers. Hefty security guards roamed the square, pushing us back onto some steps as they defended the territory of Peel Holdings, even though public money had financed it.
We were from Keep Our National Health Service Public and were dressed in medical uniforms and pjamamas to highlight the massive changes to our NHS. From this day the new Health and Social Care Act has become law, passing the national budget for healthcare to local Clinical Commissioning Groups made up mainly of GPs. Our concern is that they will decide local priorities without proper consultation with local people and that they will be forced to offer contracts to private health providers, who will put profit before patients’ health and wellbeing.
One of our comrades dressed as a surgeon and extracted a “heart” from our dummy body, thus dramatising our concerns that the heart of the NHS is being taken our of our health care system and also highlighting the fact that many people in this country have an emotional link with the service.
We are alarmed at the rapid rate of privatisation that is taking place in the Greater Manchester area, you will notice when you go to your GP that if you need a scan, if you need a hearing test or various other things, you will be sent to private companies.
The Government has recently brought in additional clauses to the Health and Social Care Act which more or less force the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to put out every bit of the health service to private tender”, she added, “We, in Keep The NHS Public, 38 Degrees and other campaign groups, are calling on the CCGs to purchase services from the NHS to keep a holistic free service in the NHS.
Across Greater Manchester activists have been challenging the Con/Dem attacks on the NHS. A conference in February galvanised groups in Manchester, Salford, Stockport, Trafford, Bolton and Wigan to get active in their own areas, setting up local groups and trying to make the new Clinical Commissioning Groups respond on issues relating to their accessibility to local service users.
Over the last few weeks in Tameside a group of like-minded citizens have got together to campaign about NHS services in Tameside. We are concerned about Tameside hospital and local services, in particular the threat to local A&E services. Apart from the odd article in the local newspaper there has been little information sent out to users of the NHS. We decided to challenge this by meeting with the public and explaining what was happening.
We set up a street stall last Saturday and told people about what was happening to their local NHS services. Most people were appalled with the lack of information and horrified that private health care providers could take over a public service.
Many of them signed postcards to their GPs asking them to prioritise NHS services over private health care companies. This week we will be delivering them to local surgeries and asking for GPs’ views on the subject. We will be asking them to join our campaign locally and nationally. We have also formally asked to be included in the local CCG meetings.
Staff who work in the NHS are facing job cuts or privatisation. The community ambulance service has already been handed over to the Greater Manchester Arriva Bus Company. We want to link up NHS workers with service users, so if you are in a local trade union please contact us.
Our campaign will continue with street stalls in the other boroughs across Tameside. We will be asking local MPs and councillors to join our campaign.
You can make a difference;
There is still an immediate battle over the competition regulations at the heart of the ‘reforms’. There’s a chance to defeat this core element of the Government’s plans in Parliament this month, and we’re asking supporters to contact MPs and to ensure that they act. We need to keep up the pressure on the House of Lords to reject the pro-privatisation regulations which the government has slightly amended but changed nothing of substance.
The House of Lords will vote on this on 24 April so get your messages in before then! Here is the link
Get your MP to sign the Early day Motion 1188, which has been sponsored by the Leader of the Opposition.
• Join our campaign at Tameside KONP@gmail.com
• Attend the Gtr. Manchester KONP meeting on 8 April at Friends Meeting House in Manchester
• Join nationally if you live outside Tameside see
• Ask your trade union or community group to affiliate
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