Year 2000 No. 38, March 1, 2000

Condemn Tony Blair's Statement that NHS Trusts and Managers Must "Embrace Change"!

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Condemn Tony Blair's Statement that NHS Trusts and Managers Must "Embrace Change"!

Tony Blair Opposed at St Thomas’ Hospital

Scottish Students Take Action

Scottish Parliament on the Cubie Report

For Your Reference: Brief Details of the Cubie Report

Students are Being Forced into Low-Paid Jobs to Make Ends Meet

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Condemn Tony Blair's Statement that NHS Trusts and Managers Must "Embrace Change"!

Statement of Workers’ Weekly Health Group, Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Yesterday, speaking at St Thomas's Hospital in Central London on the opening of an upgraded casualty unit, Tony Blair issued a warning to hospital Trusts and managers. He said that those Trusts that "embrace change and modernisation will increasingly find that we leave them to get on and provide local people with a good service….But those few that cannot or will not change can expect support and intervention - and where necessary, someone else running the show." This statement comes only a week after the head of the NHS Alan Langlands resigned and shows that the government intends that only those Trusts and health service managers that "embrace" the "Third Way" that New Labour is implementing for the NHS will be allowed to survive.

New Labour's plan for the NHS is one of taking the market in health care further than the previous government. It is one of increasing the ownership and profits by big business in the NHS through such mechanisms as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). In other words, it is a refusal to make the investments necessary to plan for and meet all the health needs of the population. This is all done under the diversionary political course that there is allegedly a "Third Way" for the NHS which doesn't have to raise these investments by challenging the pay the rich society but by embracing it instead. What Tony Blair is saying is that only those that not only implement this programme but also go along with it will find a place in the new NHS. Every one else will be cast to hell. This statement of Tony Blair should be condemned, together with the whole programme that New Labour is implementing of cutting back on social programmes and paying the rich.

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Tony Blair Opposed at St Thomas’ Hospital

When he made his visit to St Thomas’ and made his speech to staff condemning reports of the crisis in the NHS as being "alarmist", he was condemned by a women who shouted, "You are a liar, that’s what you are, a liar." She was quickly escorted from the building.

Tony Blair was unveiling a "new" five-point plan for the NHS, which however does nothing to address the problem of lack of resources, nor is it based on the principle that health care is a right.

An audit-office report last week had revealed that record numbers of patients had surgery cancelled last year. The number of patients on hospital waiting lists is growing. For example, in London in December there were 171,653 people waiting for hospital treatment – an increase of 3 percent on November.

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Scottish Students Take Action

Student associations across Scotland voted unanimously for a day of action today on the Cubie report. They are calling for its recommendations to be implemented in full.

The report prepared for the Executive of the Scottish Parliament by an independent committee led by Andrew Cubie as convener proposed the abolition of up-front tuition-fee contributions from Scottish students wherever they studied. The Scottish Executive, however, said it could only abolish fees for Scottish students in Scotland or be liable for the fees of EU students studying elsewhere in Britain. Andrew Cubie has said that he regrets the Scottish Executive’s further proposal that graduates make endowment contributions once their earnings reach £10,000. The Cubie Committee had made the threshold for contributions £25,000, above average earnings.

President of the NUS Scotland, Richard Baker, said of today’s student action, "Students feel they are being shortchanged under the proposed scheme."

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Scottish Parliament on the Cubie Report

After the Cubie Report was published, the Scottish National Party made a call for "Cubie Plus", which was for the adoption of all of the recommendations of the report plus the total abolition of tuition fees.

The Scottish Executive announced that a Joint Ministerial Working Group had been established to consider its recommendations. The Executive released a Framework Document: Working Together for Wider Access to Further and Higher Education and a Fair Deal for Students on January 25, which was limited to certain key areas in the Cubie proposals. It recommended that tuition fees be abolished from this Autumn, and that grant-style "Access Payments" be offered to students from low income families. Funding for the Access Payment scheme will come from Graduate Endowments, which will be paid once students have graduated. However, mature students, lone parents, the disabled and those taking HNDs or HNCs will not have to pay the Endowment.

However, Scottish students not studying in Scotland, and non-Scottish students studying in Scotland will still be liable to pay tuition fees.

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For Your Reference:

Brief Details of the Cubie Report

The Independent Committee of Inquiry into Student Finance was the first independent committee established by the Scottish Parliament. It was presented to the Scottish Executive on December 21, 1999.

Its recommendations were unanimous, relating to all aspects of student funding. The Report made 52 recommendations.

It was unequivocal that the student or parental contribution to tuition fees in full-time higher education should be abolished for Scottish students. The old arrangements the Report considered, were unpopular, broadly discredited, added to anxieties about debt and created undue anomalies.

The Report was equally unequivocal that the up-front contribution should be abolished. However, it did not recommend the principle that free education should apply in all circumstances. It proposed a Scottish Graduate Endowment, with the aim that graduates who benefit from higher education make a contribution towards its future costs. Nevertheless, the Report stated that full-time further and higher education students, other than postgraduates, should have the opportunity to attend college or university without paying tuition fees.

The Committee proposed that, to counter what it called "loan aversion" and facilitate greater access, non-repayable bursaries be introduced for some full-time higher education students and that means-testing of the present loan entitlement be introduced in higher education.

The Report pointed out that too many people with talent in Scotland are denied access to further and higher education, either after secondary school or in later life. These potential students, Andrew Cubie said, the society and the Scottish economy suffer as a result and that was particularly so in further education.

The majority of the recommendations, the Committee pointed out, were within the competence of the Scottish Parliament in terms of The Scotland Act 1998. The Report urged the Scottish Executive to encourage the Westminster government to consider the wider recommendations.

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Students are Being Forced into Low-Paid Jobs to Make Ends Meet

A survey released on February 25 shows that students are being forced into low-paid low-quality part-time jobs to make ends meet. Their studies are suffering and many can only find jobs with anti-social hours which require potentially dangerous journeys to and from work.

These are the findings of a study conducted by the Labour Research Department and commissioned by the TUC. The survey found that nearly three-quarters (72%) of students are having to work just to survive their college days, with significant numbers having jobs in call centres and care homes, where high turnover and low pay is common.

Of the students questioned, 60% said that without the money they earn from work they would be unable to survive. The students work an average of 14 hours per week, earning an average of £4.37 an hour. A small number of students (3%) are not even being paid the minimum wage. Of the young people surveyed, 18% are working in call centres and a further 21% in care and nursing homes. Students also told researchers about the things that bother them most at work. These are the unsocial hours, involving travelling home late at night, low pay, stress and bullying and harassment. The proportion of young people missing lectures and seminars because of work was 26%, and 16% had failed to submit coursework on time; 57% felt their studies had been affected, with a further 10% reporting that their lecturers had expressed concern that their job was making their college work suffer.

The TUC released the research to coincide with its annual youth conference in London.

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