Monday, 13 October 2014

On Mistakes and Strikes, by Clive Peedell

This and ​this are a huge embarrassment for the Tories, but also a depressing revelation.
It's no surprise to us that these reforms have been a disaster as this is exactly what we predicted - a huge mistake from start to finish. The NHA Party was launched precisely because of, and in direct opposition to, these reforms.
Within months of taking office, the Tories broke their promises of no top down reorganisation of the NHS and no privatisation. They ignored widespread professional opposition and forced through their disastrous Health and Social Care Act.
It's totally reckless of David Cameron to have backed the​ reforms without even understanding them. And his decision to make the protection of the NHS a central part of his conference speech is now shown to be disingenuous and inept, as behind the scenes he was regretting his own reforms as a huge strategic error.

The Prime Minister seems to care only about the dreadful impact they've had on the Tory party rather than on millions of NHS patients and staff.

This damaging reorganisation wasted billions of pounds at a time of unprecedented NHS austerity, has accelerated privatisation, worsened patient care and  left the NHS facing a £30bn funding gap by 2020.

No wonder Andrew Lansley vetoed publication the NHS Risk Register at the time, which predicted the current problems now facing the NHS would occur in relation to the changes.

It just goes to show that the Tories can never be trusted with the NHS, and that the NHS is electorally toxic for them.
We can’t run the NHS without suitable staff, we can’t improve the NHS without more staff, and we can’t recruit staff if pay keeps falling behind inflation and comparable jobs.

The nationally agreed pay system established in the last decade is now under sustained attack.

It’s outrageous that Jeremy Hunt has refused even a meagre 1% pay rise for 60% of NHS staff and 70% of nurses. One in five NHS workers are now forced to take on second jobs just to get by.

It’s also disingenuous to claim there has to be a choice between paying staff at agreed rates and inflicting savage cuts when it is this government that has wasted and continues to waste billions of pounds every year on an NHS reorganisation that no one wanted, on a market system and accelerated privatisation that  mean worse patient care, and on PFI loans that are bankrupting hospital trusts.

Why is Mr Hunt able to dismiss the 1% pay rise for NHS staff that was recommended by the Independent Pay Review Body, and yet David Cameron is unable to dismiss a 10% pay rise for MPs recommended by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. It appears there is one set of rules for hardworking NHS staff and another set of rules for MPs.

The fact that NHS staff have been driven to take strike action speaks volumes for the damaging, morale-sapping policies this government has inflicted on them.

For these reasons, we support this strike action. NHS staff deserve fair pay.

Dr Clive Peedell is Co-Leader of the National Health Action Party.

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