NHS and health

Social care: tax the rich!

Social care needs a transformation comparable to the transformation of UK healthcare seven decades ago through the NHS. It seems likely such a policy, for a public care and support system, would be popular, if strong enough voices argued for it. At the moment the forces campaigning for anything like it are weak, but the issue is centre-stage as never before. When the Tories produced their “plan for social care” — taxing workers more to produce extra money for the NHS and a much smaller amount for care services (later) — the Labour Party embarrassed itself by its lack of alternative ideas. Now...

Clearing the NHS backlog

The treatment backlog threatening the NHS is a symptom not just of the pandemic, but of long-worsening problems that preceded it and sharpened its impact. Last week the backlog hit a record high of 5.6 million people. It is currently growing by 150,000 a month. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the figure could rise as high as 13 million. Presumably Javid is trying to drum up support for the Tories’ attack on workers’ incomes to raise more funds for the health service; but the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), for instance, has sketched out what seem like plausible scenarios in...

NHS pay: debate the options!

As I write on 14 September, neither Unison or the RCN has issued the results of their NHS pay consultations, which closed on 10 and 13 September respectively. The other unions are still in process. The votes are likely to indicate rejection. Very few workers give positive endorsement to the award, although there is a lack of confidence that anything can be done. There are rumours of relatively low turnouts, unsurprising given generally poor workplace organisation and limited campaigning by the unions nationally. Even if this is the case, participation will vary between workplaces and sectors...

Reject the NHS pay award

The trade union consultations on the NHS pay award are coming to an end. The Unison ballot runs until 10 September, the RCN finishes on 13th, GMB on 17th, and Unite on 24th. The next days and weeks are the last chance for members to vote and for activists to get out and encourage them to reject. The award doesn’t get anywhere near the claims of the unions. All have stated that it is not good enough. RCN, GMB and Unite have recommended rejection. It is likely that all the results will be to reject the deal. It’s obvious to all NHS workers that a lower than inflation pay award of 3% is...

NHS needs across-the-board fight on pay, funding and privatisation

Over August-September the health unions will be organising consultative ballots on the 3% pay offer for health workers. Unison’s email to members says that the 3% rise doesn’t increase pay to anyone unless Band 8C or above; that it increases the pay gap between highest and lowest paid workers in the NHS; and that it “does not embed the real Living Wage as a minimum”. Therefore, says Unison, it cannot recommend that members accept the offer. The union leadership, however, falls short of a positive campaign to reject and go for industrial action. Unison’s consultation closes on 10 Sept. The...

Build from below against NHS pay insult

Following the government's 3% award to NHS workers, all the health unions will be running informal consultations of their members over the next month. The award falls way below the claims of each union, Unison ÂŁ2,000, RCN 12%, GMB and Unite 15%, and the current RPI rate of inflation, 3.9%, making it yet another real-terms pay cut. The fact that the government has met the Pay Review Body recommendation only shows how inadequate that body is.

Defeat NHS cuts, carve-up and wage-squeeze!

New figures from the TUC say that after the 3% pay rise the government is proposing, NHS workers will still be than 7.5% worse off than in 2010. Other figures have suggest the pay cut is bigger. Certainly for many NHS workers it will be much bigger. The Tories are also saying that 3% must come from existing NHS budgets, i.e. from cuts to services. We demand a 15% increase, and fully funded. Under pressure from NHS campaigners, Labour and the unions eventually spoke out against the Tories’ privatisation- and cuts-driving Health and Care Bill and the Parliamentary Labour Party voted against the...

NHS: beat the 3%, beat new privatising plans!

It looks like the government’s pay “award” for NHS workers will be 3%. Maybe only 1.5% will be a basic ongoing increase, and the other 1.5% a one-off payment. This falls way below all the claims the unions put into the Pay Review Body. Three per cent does nothing to address the real-terms pay cuts faced by NHS workers over the last 10 years, or the 100,000 vacancies that are taking many workers to breaking point and crippling NHS services. After a more than a year of extraordinary effort and current escalating pressures NHS workers will feel this as a body blow. The government are confirming...

Make unions fight for workplace safety!

The Tory government is setting England on course for a gamble with Covid-19. The labour movement is not well-placed to second-guess scientists. But we must step up our fight for the social measures we’ve long been campaigning for, and which are known to alleviate the spread of Covid. On 1 July the editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) responded to the appointment of Sajid Javid as health minister with a list of demands. Those included: • Proper financial support for those who need to isolate. • Invest in ventilation. • Make FFP3 masks mandatory for all staff treating patients with...

Complexities of vaccine policy

Unite, Unison and GMB leaders’ opposition to compulsory vaccination for care home workers, echoed by Ali Treacher’s article (Solidarity 598), has me in two minds. At the very least, it’s more complicated than presented. It is undoubtedly a cynical and hypocritical move by a government that has demonstrated extreme disdain for the lives of both workers and care home residents, refusing the most obvious and far more important measures like universal 100% sick pay. However, that hypocrisy doesn’t mean the labour movement should necessarily campaign against the policy itself, or its extension to...

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