General Election:
Protect the National Health Service

Press Release

June 12th 2024

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Two Key Campaign Issues

With Professor Allyson Pollock

Did you know that although we have a Secretary of State for Health, there is no statutory responsibility for health care? This was removed in 2012 and with it any form of democratic accountability.

Did you know currently NHS premises are used by private health providers to make profits at a time when the NHS is short of space.

Resolving these two issue is critical to any further campaigning needed to rebuild the National Health Service. Therefore, Rebuild Britain, together with the GFTU, wants all prospective MPs to sign up to two, simple cost-free pledges.

1 Reinstate the Secretary of State’s statutory duty to secure and provide health care to all.

2 End private health providers’ use of NHS premises.

Watch a campaign video

Watch a campaign short video clip

Protect the NHS

While underfunding is a huge problem for the NHS, if politically and organisationally, it  remains outside democratic control and accountability, Parliament cannot protect it.

We are seeking to inform trade unionists and activists of the central importance of these issues to prepare for more effective campaigning.

To kick-start the campaign we invited Professor Allyson Pollock to lead a Webinar on March 27th. Allyson is a consultant in public health medicine and was the Director of the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University. She is an academic who is known for her research into, and opposition to, part privatisation of the UK National Health Service (NHS) via the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and other mechanisms.

Donate to Rebuild Britain

Campaigning to Rebuild Britain and to protect the NHS is a huge task and any contribution will be welcome.

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General Election: NHS Campaign Resources

NHS at Tipping Point Flyer

Model Motion for Union Conferences Renew the National Health Service

  1. This Branch notes that the duty of the Secretary of State for health for the National Health Service was removed by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, the duty that was central to sustaining a free at the point of access, publicly funded and democratically accountable NHS staffed by dedicated public sector employees committed to the public service ethos.
  2. The Branch believes that without democratic control of NHS funding and the delivery of health care, and with companies increasingly delivering health services within the NHS, pressure on NHS funding will grow to provide profits to these companies and not for public benefit.
  3. The Branch therefore believes that the maximum public good and the best use of public funding will only be achieved if the use of NHS premises by private health companies is ended and the Secretary of State’s statutory duty for the NHS and the nation’s health is restored.
  4. The Branch further asserts that these two fundamental reforms will be cost free and vital to restoring the founding principles of the NHS and the concept of genuinely free health care for all, funded from the public purse, controlled by the Secretary of State and thus democratically accountable to Parliament.
  5. This Branch therefore calls on the Union to formally adopt these policies and principles and to seek to commit the TUC to them as a matter of urgency.

(For Labour Party affiliated Unions please prioritise for Conference and constituencies.)

New Publication

The NHS at Tipping Point - Time for Renewal

Rebuild Britain's new pamphlet analyses the current state of the NHS and makes urgent recommendations for renewal.

This pamphlet was launched at the TUC in Liverpool on Tuesday 12th September, with Professor Allyson Pollock, a public health physician, academic scholar, and former director of the Institute for Health & Society, as the keynote speaker to the conference. Professor Pollock was supported by Gawain Little, General Secretary of the GFTU.

For decades, workers and their trade unions have been fighting to stop things getting worse. Now is the time to fight to make things better. The struggle for wages and conditions has always been, at its core, and in its small print, motivated by the desire to save the NHS. The latter must now become the headline, the banner, the large print with improved pay and conditions as two important steps towards it. Nothing less than a change in mind set is required.
To reserve a press copy of the new pamphlet for review or to order multiple copies for distribution contact Press@RebuildBritain.org.uk
Read a review of the launch in the Morning Star, here.
Read an article on the state of the NHS by Fawzi Ibrahim, one of the contributors to the pamphlet.

Decades of Underfunding has Left the National Health Service in Crisis

Britain has fallen behind all comparator countried with respect to the percentage of the nation's wealth that is spent on health. In all  measures we are at or close to the bottom of the European league tables and far below the averages of the 14 comparator nations in the King’s Fund report.

These statistics show in stark terms how far the UK has fallen behind other comparable and neighbouring countries in health provision. At their most extreme they show that Germany had 46% more doctors per head, 68% more nurses, 3 times as many hospital beds, 4 times as many CT scanners and a staggering almost 5 times as many MRI scanners, as the UK. In fact, UK is far behind the national averages of the 14 comparator nations on all measures. While the data is correct only up to 2018, no-one is claiming that the situation has improved since then. Indeed, the numbers will have changed a little since 2018 but the comparisons will be similar. It is possible that the UK’s relative position may have further deteriorated and updated figures will be of interest.

The issues discussed here and much more will be analysed in our forthcoming pamphlet on the nation's health service, and what must be done to rebuild it.

Numbers Per Thousand of National PopulationsNumbers Per Million People
DoctorsNursesHospital BedsCT ScannersMRI Scanners
Germany4.113.38.13633
France3.19.96.11718
Belgium310.86.22312
Netherlands3.510.24.21412
UK2.87.92.697
Averages of 14 Comparator Nations3.610.24.32415

Read more of this article here

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We Want Thames Water Back Debt-Free

by Bob Ansell  

River Thames
The story of Thames Water is the story of privatisation failure generally and water privatisation, in particular. According to the Financial Times, since 1989, water companies in England and Wales have paid out £72bn to shareholders. To put this into perspective, that represents nearly £2000 for every adult in England and Wales. To achieve this financial generosity, the water companies have borrowed a colossal £53bn. When privatised, they were sold off with no debt. We paid around £1.9 billion through taxation to make the new owners debt-free.

One of Margaret Thatcher’s arguments at the time of privatisation was that private companies would be able to borrow for investment. But, according to the National Audit Office, the newly privatised Thames Water plc and its subsequent owners have instead increased paid large dividends to shareholders and charges by around 40% in real terms up to 2015.

There is a great deal of evidence to show that throughout its post-privatisation history, Thames Water's infrastructure has been severely compromised because of the relentless pursuit of short-term financial gains. For over 30 years our precious water resource has been handed round like a financial plaything from one foreign private investment bank to another.

This is particularly the case from 2006 when Thames Water was acquired by the Australian investment bank, Macquarie. They simply prioritised boosting profits at the expense of investing in essential infrastructure upgrades. As a result, the utility's network has deteriorated significantly, leading to frequent water mains bursts, leakages, and disruptions in supply that adversely affect the public and the environment. In addition, Macquarie used some of its pension fund to pay dividends to shareholders. This has led to an increased personal risk to those currently working for Thames Water.

Thames Water may be the most obvious failure that is in the news, but the entire water industry is in trouble. So, what do we do about the problem? In England and Wales 70% of our water is owned and controlled by foreign companies at our expense. It is interesting to note that Scotland did not join the privatisation frenzy. And, since 1989, investment in water infrastructure in Scotland is 35% higher than in England, while bills have risen 10% less.

Across most of the world we stand out and almost alone for allowing private investment banks to dictate the investment in our water infrastructure and control our natural water resources. For obvious reasons almost no other country allows this. We must take control of our water in a manner which does not follow the usual privatisation story of private profit leading to public bail-out and liability. We have already paid for our water industry. Now we want it back, debt-free.

Trade Unions Must Become the Political Leadership of Britain

Doug Nicholls, Chair of Rebuild Britain and former General Secretay of GFTU has given an interview with The Morning Star in which he argues that the trade union movement must become the political leadership of Britain and forge a new direction for the movement. In the article Doug Nicholls states that, 'While trade unions are defensive organisations and only a few have had a commitment in their rules to struggle for a socialist society, many have resigned themselves to the false view that unions do “industrial” things and the Labour Party does the politics. There’s nothing more political than saving jobs and fighting for wages. But we now need to broaden our horizons and become the political leadership of the country.' Read the full article here
New Publication

Government Spending and Debt: A New Approach

Rebuild Britain has produced highly acclaimed publications on the steps required to rebuild the British economy.

This is the third pamphlet published by Rebuild Britain. Our first two look at what is needed to rebuild the fishing industry and manufacturing. We will not be able to move forward with a strong economy unless we attend to Britain’s finances and the position of the financial sector. More austerity, more national debt, more market madness, greater inequality and rising prices are not the answer. This pamphlet shows how they can be avoided. Written in an accessible style, this pamphlet provides an educational tool for trade unionists and community activists setting out the straightforward solutions that are needed and urges readers to translate them into new policies in their organisations. Public finances, that is the income and expenditure of government, and private finance, that is the vast wealth in money of the banks, pension schemes, insurance companies and money traders in general, have for a long time been regarded by workers as mysterious, with an aura of magic. The operations of the great institutions of finance are seen as alien, unfathomable and complex. In truth, there is no mystery, just mystification; no complexity, just confusion. For trade unions, public finance has often been regarded as a secondary question to the bigger, priority issues of pay and conditions, economic strategy and industrial policy. In fact, public finance is the bigger picture. It is the scaffolding that buttresses and conditions the shape of the nation’s whole economy. Sound, stable public finances are the pre-requisite to any serious attempt to rebuild industry, revive agriculture and public services and combat climate change.
Finance Cover

You can download a PDF copy from here.

To reserve a press copy for review or to order multiple copies for distribution contact Press@RebuildBritain.org.uk
Please contact us at Chair@rebuildbritain.org.uk if you would like to discuss these issues further.

Rebuild Britain's Manufacturing

A Strategy for Revival

 

The devastating decline of British manufacturing over many decades is widely agreed.

Now, we have to stop pretending that we can sustain a viable economy for the long term without rebuilding a larger and stronger manufacturing base.

Manufacturing-1
Britain has a trade deficit chasm because we  import vastly more than we export. We have largely stopped making things and buy too much from abroad, especially from the EU. UK investment levels have been chronically low for many decades and we remain at the bottom of the OECD investment league table of industrial nations. That has to change. The renaissance of British industry will not happen if left simply to market forces.  It must be driven by government action on many fronts.
Our pamphlet will demonstrate that the disappearance of so much of Britain’s historic manufacturing base has been extraordinary and exceptional by any comparison. We examine the collapse of Britain’s manufacturing employment, the fact that Britain has persistently failed to invest, with the lowest level of investment in the developed nations of the OECD, leading to a yawning trade deficit chasm. A significant cause of Britain’s industrial weakness has been its long term overvaluation of Sterling, making our exports expensive and imports cheap, and that managing the Sterling exchange rate down to an economically appropriate and competitive level is necessary to underpin any possible recovery in manufacturing.

Beyond this primary necessity the state must:

  • Drive a ‘Buy British’ public procurement strategy
  • Promote the on-shoring of manufacturing production, especially of supply chains
  • Develop an active and effective government role in driving up domestic investment
  • Legislate to ensure a substantial expansion in the national skills base
  • Substantially  expand  state aids to industry and regional industrial support
  • Expand the role of public ownership including an urgent nationalisation of the steel industry
  • Establish a new commission for industry involving government, employers and trade unions.

Positive signs that Labour has recognised the importance of rebuilding Britain's manufacturing capacity outside the EU.

Some of the media reports following an interview with Kier Starmer

In the speech, as reported in the Guardian on 14th February, Starmer said, "Labour would have practical plans to buy, make and sell in Britain..... We would be ... investing in skills, technology and quality jobs..."
The Birmingham Mail on 15th February reported that Starmer said that, "Labour...plans to back manufacturing, asking every public body to give more contracts to British industry and ... will pass a law requiring public bodies to report on how much they are buying from British businesses, including smaller firms."
On February 15th, TheCourier.co.uk reported that Starmer had stressed he would not seek to re-enter the EU once in government, and on Newcastle Radio on 14th February he said, "We've exited the EU and we're not going back. Let me be clear in the North East about that. There is no case for re-joining."    "I want to make sure we take advantage of the opportunities, and that we have a clear plan for Brexit. That's what I'm working on."

These are positive signs that Labour has accepted the referrendum vote and intends to support the Rebuilding of Britain outide the EU. They must be held to that commitment.

Rebuild Britain's Fishing Industry

 

by Brian Denny

Fishing Boat

Develop our coastal communities for a sustainable future in an independent Britain

Brian Denny

Introduction

There is no doubt that fishing communities have felt the full brunt of European Union membership under the Common Fisheries Policy just like other industries and areas have suffered from EU directives demanding the privatisation of our railways and the general de-industrialisation of this country. As a result over 700,000 tonnes of fish are removed from UK waters every year by EU fleets that are allowed to fish up to the six-mile limit with virtual impunity.

Brexit Deal Bad for Fishing Industry

Yet the Brexit trade deal agreed at the end of 2020 was a further blow to the industry as EU boats will continue to fish in UK waters for some years to come. Added to this the EU has effectively put a blockade on fish exports on Britain with new customs arrangements and vindictively banned the import of live shellfish that are often landed from the same fishing grounds as French fishing boats. Read more of the pamphlet online.

Download

Download the full pamphet documenting the effects of EU membership on Britain's fishing, and how we can rebuild the industry. Each download is 12 MB. Download Landscape PDF - Best for PC or Laptop Download Portrait PDF - Best for Tablet or Phone
Cover Full
Government Failure to Protect our Fishing Failure to support the British fishing industry in a deal with Norway could lead to hundreds of jobs lost on Humberside.

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Make Britain Self-reliant

The pandemic exposed the foolishness of our reliance on other countries for manufactured goods. The shortages of things such as PPE for medical staff and respiratory ventilators for patients in intensive care underscored the need for self-reliance.
Bio Tech - Cropped

What is Self-Reliance?

Self-reliance is not self-isolation let alone self-sufficiency. Neither is it protectionist; it provides protection not protectionism; protection for the nation’s inhabitants and its natural resources. It means creating a safe space to inhabit, a secure nation with a strong industrial base that can confidently forge non-exploitative links with other nations.

A corollary of self-reliance is respect for the environment. Looking after our own environment to ensure long-term sustainability will cease to be a box to be ticked or a tax to be paid and become an integral part of our economic activities.

Services Dominate Britain's Economy

A key aspect of self-reliance is the need to rebalance the economy away from the service sector. Services are important, including financial services, but they are subordinate to the sectors they service. Unlike manufacturing, they are not a primary source of wealth creation and treating them as such distorts the country’s economy. Currently, services account for 80% of the economy, a ratio that is no longer sustainable; it is like having more TV service engineers than TV receivers. A national conversation on post-pandemic Britain is currently under way and everyone must be involved. Trade unions are leading the debate. This is what the manufacturing union Unite had to say immediately after the trade deal with the EU was agreed: ‘The government must not be allowed to put its feet up and claim job done. Far from it. The new year will bring a need to roll up our sleeves in the national interest and build the broadest possible alliance to safeguard and advance the long-term interests of our manufacturing heartlands.’ 

The TUC spelled it out

“Now the prime minister must make good on his promise to level up Britain. And he needs to act fast. There can be no more pointing the finger at the EU. Government must deliver an industrial strategy for decent work, with investment in jobs and green industries in parts of the country that need it most. “Ministers must also urgently build on this deal to overcome the barriers to trade and higher production costs many sectors will face which puts jobs at risk. And we will not accept a race to the bottom on rights.”

Unity Within Britain Needed

As this conversation develops, it will bring the various parts of Britain together. In particular, it will help to strengthen Scotland’s place within the union. Scottish workers will find that they have more pressing matters of rebuilding the country than wasting time talking about independence, a topic designed to separate them from their sisters and brothers in the rest of Britain.
Manufacturing Internship Overview-50

Rebuild Britain's Manufacturing Industry

 

by Geoff Carter

High precision inspection probe

What kind of Britain do we want?

A combination of events is forcing us to confront that and related questions with a new urgency. What kind of Post Covid and Post Brexit economy and society should emerge from the devastation of Covid. What opportunities are offered by freedom from the EU? Can we also confront the climate crisis? Unprecedented times require unique and creative solutions. Now is the time to seize the moment and begin to plan for and build an economy and ian inddustrial base that work for the people of Britain. We need an industrial strategy guided by those who know their industries and how to build them for the future.

The Lucas Plan

Over forty years ago, workers at Lucas Aerospace developed what came to be known as the Lucas Plan, a radical alternative to redundancies and the military products and the working methods of the company. Faced with massive redundancies in 1976, shop stewards from all the Lucas plants consulted their members and produced an alternative plan which included over 150 designs for alternative products. Many of the designs were for socially useful products in contrast to the military emphasis of much of the Lucas output. What can we learn today from the Lucas Plan? Read more here.