800 nurses at St. Vincent Hospital, Worcester, Massachusetts are starting their sixth week of strike against unsafe staffing levels that risk patients’ care and staff health.
For two years they have been trying to get their employer to raise staff numbers. During this time there have been increased patient falls and bed sores, and delayed medications and treatments. Hardly surprising, as instead of an average three patients per nurse there are five.
Covid has made the situation even worse. The hospital management have refused to provide separate facilities for Covid and non-Covid patients, that presumably would cut the number of paying patients they could accommodate.
The hospital is owned by profits-first Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. In 2020 it made $400million profit. Corporations like Tenet see health as a way of making the super-rich even wealthier.
Tenet bought nine private medical facilities in the UK including four hospitals, in 2015 for $215million. It sold them on to the United Arab Republic NMC Healthcare corporation in 2018 for just $12million cash – and $320million liabilities. Where did all that debt come from and where did the money go?
Doctors in Unite, as part of the wider UK trade union movement, campaigns strongly to kick out all private companies from our National Health Service. We say healthcare is a right for all and should not be dependent on patients’ ability to pay or on big business seeking to maximise its profits.
The St. Vincent nurses inspiring action shows how to fight back against the profiteers. Their action also shows why we need to stop Centene, all other profit-seekers and government underfunding that jeopardises patients and health care workers.