Yesterday there were two demonstrations in Manchester. Firstly an anti-war Demo and a save the NHS demo
Applause is lauded at NHS workers; ideas for re-compensation; a daily service supplement; an increased hourly rate; even a medal for working during the pandemic. Many of us in the NHS work shifts - day and night - throughout the year. It is not just a virus that killing us, our shift work is too. The World Health Organisation declared in 2007 that shift work is probably carcinogenic (Straif et al 2007 #1). Studies such as Gu et al (2015 #2) have shown us that shift work, especially nights increases our risks of cardio vascular disease, mental health issues, lower immunity, cancer and ultimately our mortality.
Rather than working our life away for minimal financial compensation would we not rather have our life given back? Striking a better work / life balance: a reduced working week without being financially penalised.
Mask on, seal over the nose to stop glasses misting up so much. Apron on (always easier with gloves on), feels flimsy especially in the wind, doesn’t feel like it will protect much. Visor on or is the patient low risk? How many more times am I going to put this all on?The beginning of shift routine is to check if we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This involves checking stores, asking managers, raiding dormant ambulances. As relief staff (not on a fixed shift pattern) you go to different stations. Each station has differing policies; some have personal issue PPE, some are ambulance specific. As relief you end up pilfering PPE to protect yourself as you might end up without.
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.
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.
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.
Poster to publicise the Health & Social Care network set up by Brighton Solfed
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.
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:
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.