Letter to the Cornishman regarding the doctor’s strike

Dear Cornishman,

Doctors all over Cornwall are taking industrial action today (Thursday 21 June) in the first national doctors’ strike since 1975. Clearly this is not action that is being taken lightly and we believe it should be given the full support of the public.

There has been a barrage of news stories in the newspapers, TV and radio media over the last few weeks since the strike was announced. Almost all have been negative. One told us how some doctors earn more than the prime minister. Another said “Striking doctors will destroy public trust… and it might never return”. Others told lurid stories of how bad individual doctors are or scaremongering about people being left without medical care.

The truth is, this is all designed to turn us against the doctors because they know that they have a lot of support among the general public. How good individual doctors are or how much some get paid is irrelevant. Dr David Bailey, chair of the Welsh GP committee, said “GPs will see everyone on Thursday who is ill or thinks they are unwell and needs to be seen by a doctor. In hospitals, all emergency and inpatient work will be done as normal. Any urgent surgery and anything to do with cancer or terminal care will be done as normal. Elective surgery will be cancelled and will be rescheduled to take place within 12 weeks. We are trying very, very hard not to affect patients – our beef isn’t with patients and never has been.”

The action is being taken because, according to the British Medical Association, the changes to the pension scheme will result in doctors paying up to 14.5% of their salaries in pension contributions, which it claims is twice as much as other public sector staff on similar salaries. However, many doctors voted for action, not just because of this but because they are angry at cutbacks in the NHS dressed up as ‘efficiency savings’ and the perceived dismantling and privatisation of the service.

The doctors are part of a wider grouping of trade unions and other organisations opposing the government on public sector pensions and the unfair cuts they are making to health, education and other public services. Their fight is our fight. We should support them.

Keith Shilson
Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance

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About penwithanticutsalliance

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance campaigns against the cuts, privatisation and job losses we face both from the government and Cornwall Council. The government says we must pay off the debt in five years but our national debt was greater in proportion to the population in 1948 when the National Health Service was created and now it is being used as an excuse to destroy the health service. Comparisons to credit card debt are meaningless. Even if we do agree that we need to pay off the deficit, £120 billion in tax is either evaded (fraud), avoided (loopholes) or not collected (the last government sacked workers in HMRC, the government department that is reponsible for collecting taxes) each year according to the PCS civil servants union. This equates to three-quarters of the debt. If Corporation Tax (on businesses) was returned to the level it was at in the 1980s (when Maggie Thatcher was Prime Minister!) that would cover the rest of it. There would be no need to make one single cut. We could also stop invading other people's countries and not replace Trident, our redundant, outdated nuclear weapons system (which will cost around £20 billion). Instead we are seeing our health system privatised and starved of funds (£20 billion 'efficiency savings' or cuts), comprehensive education broken up and privatised (academies) and thousands people losing their jobs, suffering a pay freeze, having their pensions raided or being moved onto lower benefits or off benefits altogether. This is a nasty vicious government and they need to be stopped. They are also a weak government and they can be stopped. The biggest trade union organised demonstration in British history (between 500,000 and 750,000 people) and the fantastic strikes on 30 June when 750,000 public sector workers walked out and 100,000 took part in rallies and 30 November when 2.5 million were on strike is fantastic. Now we need to go further and stop the government in its tracks and maybe bring them down. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance (cornwallanticutsalliance.wordpress.com) has taken up the challenge across Cornwall and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance is active in the Penwith area around Penzance, St. Ives and Hayle in the far west of Cornwall. We have organised a protest and petition hand-in to local MP Andrew George over the health and social care bill, taken people to the marches and rallies organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance, organised a protest and birthday celebration at West Cornwall Hospital on the occasion of the 63rd birthday of the NHS, campaigned against the cuts to West Cornwall Hospital and against the closure of the Remploy factory in Longrock. We meet every other Monday at 7pm in the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance. For more info, or to join us, email us at pzanticuts@hotmail.co.uk, leave us a message on our facebook group page or a comment on this site.
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