Reports in the national press have exposed a leaked memo from the Churchill Hospital which says that a nursing shortage means that cancer patients could have to wait longer for chemotherapy, or be given less treatment. It makes it clear that limiting access to the treatment could affect both newly referred cancer patients and those in their final weeks or months of life.

This latest outrage is just the tip of the ice-berg in the government’s wilful destruction of our NHS. Jeremy Hunt, the minister in charge of this attack on our health service should be made to resign.

The problem of nursing staff shortages at the Churchill Hospital is a direct result of low wages paid to NHS workers. Oxford is especially vulnerable to this problem due to the very high cost of living.

Oxfordshire UNISON Health branch demands that the government makes an immediate and significant increase to funding for the NHS, including a significant increase in wages for our hard-pressed hospital staff.

The government needs to move quickly to bring these contracts back in-house – to safeguard services and protect thousands of jobs in schools, local authorities and libraries.  As things stand, Carillion holds key contracts across the health service. With the current winter pressures, staff shortages and underfunding, further uncertainty puts the NHS in an even more precarious position, piling more pressure onto an overstretched system.

It’s disgraceful that Carillion was lining the pockets of its shareholders, even though the company’s future was increasingly uncertain. And now the taxpayer is going to be stuck picking up the bill for another failed privatisation experiment.

This is another example of the failures of outsourcing – a race to the bottom that prioritises greed over service and puts jobs, wages and services in jeopardy by encouraging ever lower bids, regardless of the inevitable costs involved when things go wrong.

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