Fight Welsh Labour NHS Cuts

27th March 2013

Ed Milliband said, at Labour Party Wales Conference that he wants the Shadow Cabinet to come to Wales and learn from the good things that the Welsh Government is doing. Whatever he is referring to, it can't surely be their stewardship of the NHS in Wales?

Such is the opposition that is building to Welsh Labour's NHS cuts, with demos across the country already this year, that First Minister, Carwyn Jones, was forced to meet a delegation from the North Wales Alliance of protest groups. They represent campaigns over specific local issues, like the threat to close a number of community hospitals or plans to scrap breast surgery at Llandudno, where the conference was held. Perhaps the biggest cut in North Wales is the proposal to end specialist neo-natal care in the whole of North Wales. They are currently investigating the feasibility of raising funds to mount a legal challenge to the Welsh Government on this issue.

If they thought he might be prepared to think again on cuts that are resulting in closures and downgrading of hospitals, units and services all across Wales, they were disappointed.

First Minister, Carwyn Jones, narrated how the NHS had been there for him but then proceeded to confirm the decisions that call into question whether it will be there for people from some of our poorest communities. He insisted that the Welsh Government will not back down on their planned reforms - cuts to most of us.

Welsh Labour's cuts will eat away at the party's support; one campaigner was quoted in the Daily Post as saying “People will die and that’s the sad thing. The Labour party was supposed to be the party of the people, they have lost their way.”

We have to defeat Labour's cuts as a whole not attempt to fight on a hospital by hospital basis. There was a warning to us that pulling together the different campaigns is overdue; one demonstrator was quoted in the Post as saying “They are not putting the investment which they are making in South Wales into North Wales. Why should we have to travel to England for these life saving services?”

It's not a matter of North versus South. Services are being cut everywhere; the South Wales Plan will mean 4 or 5 A&E units serving the whole of the Valleys and M4 corridor. The question is do we stand alone and watch Labour's cuts be implemented or do we unite and fight them?

In May the Wales TUC has an opportunity to put itself at the head of a campaign to defend the NHS in Wales in its entirety. To do that they will have to overcome perhaps the biggest obstacle to their effectiveness - the ties of its leadership (though not so many of its members) to a Labour Party carrying through Tory cuts. We need a national demonstration as a first step towards creating an all-Wales campaign on the NHS that demands an end to all of Labour's cuts.
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