Strong action needed to stop hospital cuts

February 1, 2013
More than 300 hospital beds have been closed in Victoria.

This statement was released by the Melbourne branch of Socialist Alliance on February 1.


Labor and Coalition governments are both to blame

Hospital administrators and staff are reeling. The Ted Baillieu state government axed $616 million from its last two health budgets and the Julia Gillard federal government has recently cut $107 million from Victorian hospitals.

While both governments blame each other, more than 300 beds have been closed, elective surgery delayed and hundreds of health workers are losing their jobs. It follows that the quality of care delivered to all Victorians is much poorer. Rural communities have been hit particularly hard, forcing many patients to travel long distances for emergency care.

While each Victorian hospital is in crisis trying to work out what wards and theatres to close in order to keep the whole hospital operating, the Baillieu Coalition government is handing $9 million to private hospitals to operate on public patients.

Is Australia imitating Greece?

Greece and Spain are responding to the economic crisis by making huge cuts to the social wage. Medicare, free education, superannuation, child care, family payments and maternity allowances are being slashed with government funds being diverted to help big business through the economic crisis.

In Australia, state and federal governments are also cutting the social wage, before the economic crisis has even reached our shores. Meanwhile, government handouts to big corporations continue untouched.

Campaign to restore funding

We, in the trade union movement and in community groups must act now to protect our public hospitals and schools. The cuts to hospitals will affect every single Victorian and every single union member

We need a determined and forceful response to reverse these cuts and demand instead that both governments increase funding to public hospitals. The community rally called by the health unions is an excellent start. This should be part of an ongoing and broad campaign.

To be effective in restoring the hospital funding, the campaign needs to be led by the entire union movement and broadened out to include community groups.

In the 1970s a national strike stopped Malcolm Fraser’s federal government from dismantling Medibank. Victorian statewide, cross -union protests and community rallies are required again to reverse these cuts. Stalls and leafleting at shopping centres, door-knocking and public meetings are also needed.

Put the following motion to your union or community group:

A. The _[Name of Union or Community Group] calls on the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) to plan state-wide coordinated actions, including stop works, rallies, mass leafleting and door knocking campaigns demanding that both the Federal Labor and State Liberal governments reverse the cuts to and increase funding to public hospitals.

B. The _[Name of Union or Community Group]  will plan its own activities to educate the public about the cuts to Victorian public hospitals and calls on both the Federal Labour and State Liberal governments to reverse the cuts and increase funding to public hospitals.

Check out Socialist Alliance’s health policy here.

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