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 Bill at its second reading on 14 July. It is now moving to "committee stage".
The Bill proposes that England is carved up into 42 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), modelled on the Accountable Care Systems in the United States.
Private companies will have seats on the ICS boards and be able to influence decisions about where NHS money is spent. The Bill abolishes competitive tendering, but that means that NHS contracts will no longer have to be tendered; ICSs can just hand them out to any contractor.
But the Labour leaders, and even the unions, have done very little to mobilise opposition.
We should demand that unions and the Labour Party actually start campaigning, including by calling a national demonstration to support the NHS workers, oppose the Bill, and demand an emergency funding-increase and privatisation-decrease for the health service.
Even by Keir Starmer’s standards, the Labour Party’s disarray here has been spectacular. When the Tories proposed the NHS pay review body go for 1%, Labour advocated 2.1%. Now the pay review body has proposed 3%, and the government has accepted that, Labour is left blustering. It calls the proposal “shameful” but previously proposed a worse figure, and still advocates no alternative. The Labour government in Wales has announced… 3%.
We should also demand the labour movement speaks out on social care. The Tories still haven’t produced a plan for the sector, but the media says one is coming. It seems it will maintain a fragmented and privatised system and only introduce a very limited cap on costs.
The last Labour Party conference voted for a free, public social care system. But at Labour women’s conference shadow cabinet member Thangam Debbonaire attacked the idea, saying it would “give the Tories a stick to beat Labour with”.