At the end of January some of our members joined a demonstration against the privitisation of another NHS service; patient transport. This ambulance service is being privitised to cut costs by the joint Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s), who decide how to spend the health budget locally. The demonstration was timed before a CCG meeting to show anger at the imminent sell-off.
Not only is this another dismantling of the NHS and introducing profiteering into healthcare; there are potentially large job losses, changes to terms and conditions for those transferred, changes of criteria for patients eligible for the services and no guarantee of the same standards of care, as a company runs dispatch and then sub contracts the transportation.
We joined patient transport staff, concerned members of the public and other union members. Alongside this we managed at short notice to organise a group of 19 healthcare students to join the demonstration to show solidarity and raise their consciousness of the struggle and its implications.
The CCG felt the pressure and called their meeting earlier to 'avoid intimidation' or answering for their decisions on our behalf. This is the start of a potentially longer campaign with plenty of room for escalation to fight back.