Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NHS Blood Workers See Red

Workers are considering a walkout to stop the government closing 14 regional blood centres around England.

The centres - in Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Plymouth, Southampton, Tooting, Colindale, Brentwood, Oxford and Cambridge - are under threat because the government wants to build three super-centres, in Bristol and at two un-named sites in the North and South East.

Though this might save money, it will cost hundreds of jobs and put lives at risk, with blood supplies taking much longer to reach their destinations.

Amicus leaders said they were “extremely concerned” about the future of the NHS Blood Service, in Estuary Banks, Speke, and around the country. Amicus is currently preparing to ballot its members for strike action after a consultative vote showed 81% of Amicus members working at the centres are in favour of industrial action.

A spokeswoman for the Blood Authority demonstrated it is all down to money when she said:
"Hospitals are now paying
£70m a year more for blood than they were a few years ago. We need to become more efficient to allow this money to be spent on frontline care."

Hopefully blood workers will strike, but workers in Amicus need to join up their struggles with NHS workers in Unison and other unions. Of course, working class people depend on the NHS, so we must organise in our communities to protect and improve services.
Remember, £70m is next to nothing compared to the possible £70 billion the government is willing to spend on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system.
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