Contrary to the deceptive spin being propagated by NHS England, the ongoing attempt to force the closure of essential life-giving heart units at three hospital trusts in Leicester, Manchester and London (Royal Brompton and Harefield) has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the ongoing destruction of our NHS.
Few people will be surprised that our Tory government is intent on defunding and privatising our NHS, but it is worrying that this critical issue has barely been mentioned in the ongoing campaign to save Leicester’s heart unit, as covered in the Leicester Mercury.
What is also clear is that cuts/closures affecting heart units, anywhere in the country, will have tragic consequences for the future health of everyone – an attack on one is an attack on all.
Two people, however, have drawn attention to the link between the defunding of the NHS and the attacks on the heart units within articles in the Mercury.
The first, Matt Cooper, whose son was treated in the Glenfield Heart Unit in 2014, explained: “It appears the NHS is looking save money and not looking at the service as a whole or worried about people’s jobs” (July 10, Mercury).
The other perceptive individual has been eighteen year-old Ria Pahwa, who helped lead the last public campaign against the attempted closure of Leicester’s heart unit. She pointed out “It seems as if this is all about money” (July 15, Mercury).
It should be obvious why the Tories are not keen to discuss the human costs of their deliberate defunding of the NHS, but Labour’s relative silence on providing solutions to these attacks is more worrying.
Thankfully, however, under Jeremy Corbyn’s principled and socialist leadership of the Labour Party, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. This is because some Labour MPs are beginning to show more than luke-warm support for the NHS Resinstatement Bill that Corbyn first helped bring into Parliament last summer before he became leader of his party.
This Bill was first tabled in Parliament on July 1, 2015, and proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketization in the NHS: a step that is necessary to stop the dismantling of the NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
So it is a massive step forward for the NHS Bill that on July 13, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Diane Abbott, spoke at a ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ rally outside Parliament in support of the Bill, which was presented to Parliament by her fellow Labour MP Margaret Greenwood (MP For Wirral West).
There can be no doubt that the most effective way to defeat all the proposed cuts to heart units in the UK will be for communities to unite in efforts to reverse the systematic attacks on the NHS by making solid connections between diverse campaigning groups across the breadth of our country.
If you live in the East Midlands though, then make sure you come to the Leicestershire Against the Cuts’ public meeting this Saturday to discuss how we can support the campaign to save the East Midlands Cardiac Unit at Glenfield Hospital. The meeting is being held at the Leicester Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate (opposite Sainsburys) from 12pm onwards.
Invite your friends and share the facebook event for the meeting here https://www.facebook.com/events/895528917241537/
Successful protest led by Ria Pahwa in 2012
In an article written earlier this year titled “The Ill Priorities of Labour MPs” (March 11) I noted how all three of Leicester’s Labour MPs (Jonathan Ashworth, Liz Kendall, and Keith Vaz) had failed to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
Although the positions of our Labour MPs on the Bill has yet to change, earlier this month, in response to Labour’s recent support for the NHS Reinstatement Bill, the initial author of the Bill, Peter Roderick, said:
“All in all, today [July 13] was a step forward in that the Bill was not voted down, was presented by a Labour MP, has 9 Labour MPs as named supporters who were not named supporters on either of the previous two Bills, and it seems now to have the support of the Labour front bench. Though there’s still a bit of ambiguity in Diane Abbot’s support for the ‘principles’, the fact that she was willing to come and address the rally today, and that last night Corbyn included ‘the need to end the privatisation of our NHS’ as one of the three things ‘Labour exists for’, I see as hopeful signs.”