Labour movement activists are organising a lobby of Labour Party conference at the end of September to demand Labour commits to reversing the Tories’ NHS “reforms” and rebuilding our health services.
As the Tories’ NHS Health and Social Care Act and their cuts are implemented, there will be numerous local struggles — to stop closures, defend services and resist the expansion of privatisation.
Such struggles are vital; they are the essential material from which a more powerful movement to defend the NHS will be built. At the same time, we cannot defend the health service piecemeal. We need to fight politically too.
Almost by definition, that means placing demands on the Labour Party. Recognising this does not mean putting off resistance to wait for a general election, or relying on the goodwill of the Labour leaders to defend and rebuild the NHS.
On the contrary: it means mobilising NHS campaigns and the labour movement — including the Labour-affiliated unions — to bring to bear the maximum possible pressure, and seek to force a commitment from Labour.
That will be a battle. Andy Burnham has pledged to repeal the Health and Social Care Act if he becomes Health Secretary; very likely, all that means is that someone else will get the job.
Ed Miliband has explicitly said that he wants to repeal only limited sections of the Act.
So far Labour has faced almost no demands for accountability from our unions on this issue. Labour Party conference is an opportunity to organise our movement around proposals for a clear alternative.
Labour movement organisations including Unite, the Labour Representation Committee, and a growing list of union branches, trades councils and Labour Parties in the North West, are mobilising to lobby Labour Party conference on 30 September, around the following demands initiated by the NHS Liaison Committee:
Labour should return to the founding principles of the NHS: quality healthcare for all, on the basis of need, as a right, in a publicly-owned, publicly-provided, publicly-accountable system. That means:
• A clear pledge to repeal the Tories’ NHS Act
• Business out of the NHS: reverse privatisation and outsourcing at every level
• End PFI and liberate the NHS from extortionate PFI charges
• Provision for need, not overgrown bureaucracy: abolish the internal market
• Decent wages, conditions and pensions for NHS workers
• Tax the rich to rebuild the NHS and fund quality provision for all
This is an opportunity for a serious mobilisation, which can act as a major focus to boost all NHS campaigning. Please back the lobby and help mobilise for it.
More info, model motions and regular updates: labournhslobby.wordpress.com
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