DRI fight hots up

ON TUESDAY Dundee communists organised a lunchtime protest against the closure of the Dundee Royal Infirmary.

Protesters were dressed as skeletons and injured patients to highlight the excessive waiting lists and inadequate healthcare. A coffin with “NHS RIP” inscribed on it represented the far from adequate health service which is now being stripped to the bone.

Giant UB40s symbolised the scandal of healthworkers who cannot find jobs - those who are put on short term contracts or driven out of the NHS due to unbearable stress caused by overwork. The pressure of caring for patients under increasingly difficult conditions is wearing many down.

The closure of DRI is one of the biggest scandals to hit Dundee, but it is not unique. Throughout Scotland and the rest of Britain hospitals are being closed and healthcare services destroyed.

The Dundee Courier on Monday quoted Ivan Jacobson, a neurosurgeon who recently retired from DRI. Speaking about the trust’s plans, he said: “What they propose to put in place of DRI at Ninewells is wholly inadequate. It is utter folly and it will never work.”

Doctors, patients and healthworkers are vehemently against the closure, as the Communist Party has found while campaigning. The real problem is that healthworkers feel so insecure about their jobs that they lack the confidence and leadership necessary to mount an effective campaign.

Communist Party candidates for the council elections, Mary Ward and Dominic Handley, gave out leaflets urging healthworkers and the public to join a united campaign against all cuts in the health service.

Mary Ward, speaking at the demonstration, said: “The closure of this hospital is completely unacceptable. We need more and better hospitals, not less. It is disgusting that in today’s society the best technology is often not used because of the cost. It is disgusting that nurses are supposed to take pay cuts and do not know from month to month whether they will still have a job. This is the most horrific example of a system which puts profit before people’s lives.”

The establishment is unanimous that it ‘cannot afford’ the health service that we need, but nobody is prepared to take responsibility for the closure. The Dundee Teaching Hospital Trust is blaming the Scottish Office. Labour and SNP blame the Tories or Westminster. The Tories blame the council. But still they keep implementing cuts.

It is up to ordinary workers who need the health service to join with healthworkers to stop the closure of DRI and to halt the attacks on the health service nationwide.

In the Communist Party election manifesto we said:

“The NHS should meet the growing needs of the population, not operate according to what capitalism can afford. NHS hospitals should be run not by appointed trusts, but democratic committees made up of trade unionists and elected local working class representatives.”

The Dundee branch of the CPGB campaigns every Saturday in the city centre against the closure and against attacks on healthworkers’ pay. It will be building for another rally in the near future. Watch this space or come to our regular Monday evening meetings at 8pm.

Helen Ellis