Wednesday 17 October 2007

NHS deaths

Members in my workplace received a lot of support during our dispute from the UNISON Manchester Community & Mental Health branch, so we've been taking a keen interest in their current dispute.

The trust they work for had pushed through changes, which the union had fought against. Despite considerable success, they didn't completely stop the attacks on services. Fighting service cuts is made much harder by the Tory anti-union laws that New Labour has left in place - industrial action is only legal if it relates to an employment dispute - excluding action against service cuts.

Tragically, the consequences of the changes are now coming to light. Tonight's Manchester Evening News reports that at least one patient has now died in circumstances their family blame on the changes. The NHS trade unionists who fought against the changes deserve our admiration and thanks. Instead, the trust is busy trying to victimise Karen Reissmann, one of the key activists who led the campaign. Thanksfully members are fighting again, demanding her reinstatement.

This news comes in the wake of the terrible news from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust, which my fellow NEC member Gill George (in typically forthright style) describes as "mass murder".

In both cases the market-driven "reform" agenda and the government targets associated with it are being put ahead of patient care - not what I believe the NHS should be about.

All this makes the NHS Together demonstration on 3rd November even more important.

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