At the start of October, on the initiative of the NHS Liaison Network, Labour Party conference voted to prioritise the NHS for debate and then passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act, opposing the cuts, and demanding the rebuilding of the NHS, paid for by taxing the rich.
Within hours of conference passing the resolution, Labour leader Ed Miliband told Channel 4 news he could not promise not make cuts in the NHS.
Few believe we can rely on the Labour leaders to save the NHS. It was the last Labour government that promoted the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the NHS, that same PFI that is now choking the life out of the NHS as hospitals are forced to pay private contractors interest and maintenance charges totalling £122 billion over the coming years.
Our job is to convince workers everywhere that we can win if we rely on ourselves, organise across the rank and file, work out our demands for ourselves, and fight for them in the labour movement, that is, in the unions and the Labour Party, in the workplace and on the streets.
We need to bring together the many hospital and health campaigns - uniting in action, sharing ideas, information, tactics and strategies; building a solidarity network that can support and mobilise and fight to win.
We need to raise the argument, loud and clear, that the rich and big business can and should pay for the NHS through higher taxes.
We need to take the battle to defend and rebuild in the NHS into the unions, all the unions, not just Unison and Unite.
We need rank-and-file organisation in the unions to take up the fight when the union leaders shy away from it and tell us to wait for a Labour government, as they will do, more and more, the nearer we get to a general election.
The battle will not be won overnight. At the moment, despite having no popular support for their attacks on the NHS, the Tories and their Lib-Dem bag-carriers have the upper-hand.
The NHS is being chopped up and hived off to the private sector. An estimated 20% of the NHS will be in the hands of private business within the next few years (Financial Times).
The Tories plan £50 billion of cuts. Services and whole hospitals are closing, jobs are being lost, patients are receiving poorer care.
There are already many hundreds of people across the country campaigning to defend hospitals, services and jobs. In order to defeat the Tories we need to mobilise hundreds of thousands of workers and their families.
Millions of people support the NHS and believe in the founding principle. As yet far fewer have the confidence, experience and know-how to win back and rebuild the NHS.
Socialists need to take the initiative for local campaigns, to help build them or where necessary to set them up, with the support of trade unions, trades councils and Constituent Labour Parties.
We need to organise public meetings, inviting local doctors, nurses and other health workers to speak and support the campaigns.
We need to organise regular stalls explaining the case for the defence of the NHS. We have to understand the facts and statistics, the detail of what is happening.
We need to organise to transform people’s belief in the NHS into a belief that they can fight and win.