Barking and Dagenham pressure group to fight NHS cuts

Stark warnings about the future of the welfare state were raised during a public meeting where campaigners launched a pressure group to fight NHS spending cuts.

Barking and Dagenham councillors and the public were joined by speakers from Keep our NHS Public campaign at the Spotted Dog pub in Barking last Thursday evening to discuss the government’s plans to transform the health service under the Health and Social Care Bill.

Dr Jackie Turner, of Tower Hamlets, said: “On value for money and efficiency it is the best health care service in the world – there’s no evidence that anything needs to be done to it.”

She said profit would be the bottom line for private companies poised to take over running and commissioning of services, which GPs were not qualified to do.

“If a certain area is not profitable, such as mental health and elderly care, they are not going to do it.

“This �20billion out of �100 billion efficiency saving – where are they supposed to come from? They’re coming from job losses. It’s going to have a knock-on effect on services.

“If we let the NHS go now, we will never get it back.”

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The government has promised that frontline staff will be protected under the cuts and that there has been “scaremongering” on the issue.

Historian Neil Faulkner said the process was part of the deconstruction of the post-war welfare state, which could lead to social problems, and he called for strikes.

“People will turn on each other,” he said.

Cllr Laila Butt blamed what she called “poor service” at King George Hospital, Goodmayes, on bad pay and working conditions for staff and drew attention to a lack of conception clinics.

She said: “It’s appalling – a resident told me she could not get an appointment at the Vicarage Clinic in Abbey Ward until the middle of May but she needed urgent treatment.

“I was told GPs in this borough don’t offer conception services.

“No wonder we have such a high teenage pregnancy rate in the borough.”

Cllr George Barratt mentioned the negative financial impact of a strike on people trying to pay their mortgages but pointed to new campaigning methods like sit-ins against huge UK companies accused of avoiding paying tax. However, Cllr Tariq Saeed said he was against strike action.

Councillors Barratt, Butt and Saeed, have agreed to form a contact group for the Keep our NHS Public campaign in Barking.