Stop the Health Cuts, End Austerity

The North has been without governing institutions since the Assembly was collapsed in January in a crisis that began with the nearly £500 million Renewable Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal involving the former DUP First Minister Arlene Foster. 

Socialist Worker

Stop the Health Cuts, End Austerity
pic: Royal Victoria Hospital ; Belfast Health Trust set to make £26.3 million  savings out of £70 million cuts in the North

No functioning Executive means unelected civil servants under the direction of James Brokenshire, the Tory secretary of state for Northern Ireland, are running government departments and with no budget in place they are imposing across the board cuts to public services.

Anger

This includes the Department of Health’s recent announcement of £70 million in cuts to the health service.

These are the most significant cuts planned to date and they have unsurprisingly been greeted with anger across the North.

Brokenshire is willing to put lives at risk by using cuts to the health service, education and elsewhere as a political football.

The Tories are ruthlessly attempting to impose their plans here and across the water but they are facing increasing resistance.

The NHS has faced relentless cuts over the last decade leading to out of control waiting lists, reductions in services and demoralisation among overworked and underpaid staff.

The NHS is a very popular public service and fears for its future are deeply held among all working class communities.

Persistent cuts to the NHS are inspired by Tory plans to privatise more and more aspects of health care delivery but the DUP/SF Executive avoided ardent opposition to austerity and allowed privatisation to creep forward.

The fact that May easily found £1 billion for the DUP to prop up her humiliated government shows funding is and has always been available.

Stormont was ineffective in blocking austerity over the last decade and shouldn’t be the focus for opposing it now.

Ineffective

The Executive was ineffective because it accepted Tory lies that austerity was necessary.

We shouldn’t allow the state of Stormont negotiations to hold us back from opposing cuts that are being implemented now.

Health Trusts have been challenged by trade unionists and health care activists to refuse to engage in the proposed ‘savings’ called for by the Department of Health.

We need to take opposition to the cuts to the streets, workplaces and communities across the North. Mobilising the broad opposition that exists to the cuts in all working class communities is the key to stopping them. Activists have been taking the lead in pushing for protests and trade union action.

The campaign to stop cuts and end austerity will be most effective if it is backed by all the political parties opposing Tory austerity. However, opposition must be active and not simply by announcement or negotiation.

Active

That approach has failed.

The constant dampening down of active campaigning over the last decade has made opposition to austerity less effective.

This mustn’t continue.

We need to mobilise now on the streets, in our communities, workplaces and schools, to stop the health cuts, to stop all the cuts and to push for an end of privatisation and austerity.

Now is the time to take action to end the pay cap on public sector workers.

If necessary, we should start planning for strike action now.

This kind of mobilisation is the only way to force the Tories to ‘find’ funding for our priorities.

Solidarity and people power is crucial to stopping Brokenshire, unaccountable Stormont bureaucrats and the entire political establishment that further cuts to the health service and all public services will not be tolerated.

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