Year 2000 No. 122, July 28, 2000

NHS Plan Gives No Guarantee of Right to Health Care

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

NHS Plan Gives No Guarantee of Right to Health Care

Peugeot Workers Strike

News In Brief
Unions Negotiate Job Losses
Job Cuts in Support Centres for Farmers

Spokesman for DPRK Foreign Ministry on Establishment of African Union

Daily On Line Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
e-mail: office@rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition: 70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail ): 1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10



NHS Plan Gives No Guarantee of Right to Health Care

The NHS Plan: A Plan for Investment, A Plan for Reform – was unveiled by the Department of Health yesterday with a statement by Tony Blair in the House of Commons.

The NHS Plan is being trumpeted as the most fundamental and far-reaching reform of the health service since it was set up in 1948. "This is a Plan for investment in the NHS with sustained increases in funding. This is a Plan for reform with far reaching changes across the NHS. The purpose and vision of this NHS Plan is to give the people of Britain a health service fit for the 21st century: a health service designed around the patient."

The point about increasing funding in the NHS is so that its future may be safeguarded. What this means is that the direction must be changed from one that increasingly is a fiefdom of capitalist profits for the monopolies and financiers, not to mention the drug companies, to a health service where health care for all is recognised as a right, and is available to all human beings in society without distinction at the highest level society can provide.

What the Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, said of the Plan is, "For the first time the Government has faced up to the breadth and depth of problems in the NHS and has addressed them all in turn." Here immediately we see the government wriggling and turning, that it has evaded its responsibilities in the past, but intends to face up to them in the future. The question which must be asked is: does the NHS Plan support this declaration of the government? The question may be put another way. Do the resources which the Plan promises do more than reverse the cuts, the "breadth and depth of problems in the NHS", and increase investments in the NHS so that the claims of the people to proper health care will be met and the health staff and professionals’ burden and "culture of blame" will be ended?

The Plan recognises that the NHS "falls short of the standards patients expect and staff want to provide". Besides attributing the failings of the health service in part to underfunding, the Plan asserts that there are systematic problems of:

  • a lack of national standards
  • old-fashioned demarcations between staff and barriers between services
  • a lack of clear incentives and levers to improve performance
  • over-centralisation and disempowered patients.

This is the sum total of the "systematic problems" that this "most far-reaching" plan addresses. The government sums up this approach in saying it is "patient-centred". Coming after the farce of the "consultation" of the plan that never was, people in the community as well as health workers would be right to question how far this could be the case.

As with the White Paper on Health and the 1999 Health Act, one is lost to find a coherent approach to the problems of the health service. Such a coherence can only be given in a positive sense by basing the service’s future on the people’s guaranteed right to health care.

Article Index


———Workers and Politics———

Peugeot Workers Strike

Peugeot car workers at Ryton in Coventry staged a 24-hour strike yesterday with more actions in the pipeline. They struck work despite attempts by union leaders to dissolve the dispute by re-balloting members with an unacceptable "renewed offer" by the company. Further strike action is due on Sunday as efforts are made between the company and unions to avert an all-out strike on August 21 after the summer shutdown which begins after this week.

Union officials had recommended acceptance of what they call a "generous offer" aimed at cutting the working week from 39 to 36¾ hours. On the basis that union leaders are "the negotiators" attempts have been made to marginalise the workforce. But the workers were having none of it, and were angry that some could be forced to work compulsory Friday evening shifts. The "generous offer" was rejected by 1,270 vote to 1,239. Union leaders are said to be "staggered" by the workers' response. Apart from this there are more issues that the workers want tabled. Union leaders are entrenched in "social partnership" with employers and do not want issues extended, particularly when they are of a political nature.

The significance of this strike is that it potentially opens up the way for all workers. Car workers have traditionally stood in a forefront position, in the Midlands and elsewhere, in breaking through boundaries. This is said to be the first major struggle at Ryton for 20 years. In this context, the struggle can help to move the class forward and develop its long awaited counter offensive. The question arises as to whether the working class can move out of its marginalisation, at the end of the day, towards constituting itself as the nation. To do this, workers must organise themselves to discuss the setting of the agenda for society and how their conditions are determined by the prevailing agenda in society. Within the struggle to defend their rights and interests, such discussion will lead them to the conclusion that they cannot confine their activities to fighting solely the industrial and economic battles.

The capitalist media have paid close attention to the issue in the Midlands, reporting on how "shocked" they were and have started propaganda as to how the vote taken was "not a big enough majority" in the latest of ballots for strike action. Pressure by union leaders and employers on how "damaging" the dispute is and how much the workers are "jeopardising the future of the company" is coming into focus. It remains to be seen as to whether the struggle can sustain itself and deliver on the workers' demands. In this sense the working class has to support the struggle at Peugeot, encouraging it forward in every way possible.

Article Index


News In Brief

Unions Negotiate Job Losses

Union officials are talking with management at a Midlands factory, which is due to shed 100 jobs.

Tatung, a Japanese company in Telford, makes television computer monitors. The company says that they are continuing to "make big shake-ups" where there will be job losses. Last year the company made 200 redundant. The company is trying to boost productivity and profitability.

The Transport and General Workers Union believes that most of the job losses would be amongst production line workers.

Job Cuts in Support Centres for Farmers

Agriculture Minister, Nick Brown has confirmed a programme of major job cuts at government offices in the West Midlands and elsewhere.

A total of 1,400 jobs will go at nine service centres around the country including Worcester. Changes are being made to the support payments for farmers scheme.

Article Index


Spokesman for DPRK Foreign Ministry on Establishment of African Union

The establishment of the African Union is a historic event that makes it possible to further raise the position of Africa and firmly defend its dignity and interests in the international arena and increase the might of developing countries as a whole.

The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said this in an answer to a question put by the Korean Central News Agency on July 23 as regards the recent signing of a treaty of establishing the African Union.

He expressed belief that the African Union will ensure regional peace and stability, tap its own great potentials and rich natural resources, build a powerful economy and, on this basis, face up to the challenge of "globalisation".

Article Index


RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page