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Terry Fields

Mersey health cuts – MPs speak out

(November 1983)

From Militant, No. 676, 18 November 1983, p. 6.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Despite the overwhelming opposition of local district health authorities, doctors, health workers and the community as a whole, the Tories are determined to go ahead with big cuts in the funding of Liverpool area health authority. The significance of these cutbacks to the service provided to working people can be gauged by some of the comments, reproduced here, of Merseyside Labour MPs speaking in a special Parliamentary debate on the issue last week.

The key element, however, in the fight to retain the standards of service and NHS jobs – in Liverpool and nationally – will be the struggles of the wider trade union and labour movement, and especially of the workers in the NHS trade unions themselves.

[The below is part of a feature with messages from six Merseyside MPs which also included Robert Waring, Eric Heffer, Robert Parry, Eddie Loyden and Robert Kilroy-Silk – ID]

Terry Fields MP (Liverpool, Broadgreen):

The government must be warned. The fight back has already started in Liverpool. Although people are on their knees, they are prepared to struggle and to take on the government and those acting on their behalf in their attacks on the health service.

Liverpool has suffered a cutback of 422 hospital beds, including 20 per cent of medical and geriatric beds.

There has been a cut of 25 per cent in surgical beds and 22 per cent in children’s beds. Also, 273 psychiatric long-stay beds for the elderly and mentally ill is a long way short of the recommended level. The Liverpool health area will suffer staff cuts of about 679. Having spoken to those involved, I believe that the figure will be closer to 1,000 ...

I have spoken not to the consultants but to the workers, to NUPE and to COHSE. They are prepared to fight and struggle for their jobs, irrespective of whether the Government or the regional health authority are trying to take them away. They care about the people in their hospital beds and the people of Liverpool who will lose the services. They are prepared to take on the Government.

... We are on record as saying that, although we have to fight the Government’s legislative proposals in the House, Liverpool Members will be back on the picket lines with those workers defending their jobs and services in our area.

We are prepared to fight for the workers. We warn the Government now that their policies will lead to confrontation in areas such as Liverpool. We shall be four square behind those workers.

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Last updated: 11 February 2017