Sicko ... Coming Soon to Cork?

Sicko is the name of the new Michael Moore film exposing the US health service for what it is – a profit hungry machine that puts money first and people second. In the good ol’ US of A, if you don’t pay when you get sick then it’s tough luck. Beacon Medical Group is our very own Irish version of Sicko. They are the spearhead of Mary Harney’s new ‘co-location’ plan for the hospital service in Ireland and in January they submitted a proposal to build a large ‘private’ hospital on the grounds of Cork’s University Hospital (CUH) in Wilton.

Why would a group of business men with a track record in property and commercial developments turn their hand to building and running a hospital? The answer is simple – Harney and Co are offering them a prime site to build on; they are also promised big subsidies and Beacon is guaranteed a nice, large slice of the lucrative ‘privately insured’ healthcare market. In return Beacon are doing their bit to fulfil the Fianna Fail/ PD/ Green Party government strategy to encourage privatisation and private business operation in every area of life in Ireland.

The Irish health service already operates on apartheid lines. There’s a fast track for those with health insurance and long waiting times for the rest of us. The Beacon operation at CUH will make this situation even worse. Here’s why:
1. Just The Best Jobs Please! Beacon will cherry pick the work they take on. They’ll accept the ‘high end’ well paid jobs (via the National Treatment Purchase Fund) and leave the chronic essential care that is labour intensive to the public service. This will drain even more resources from the public system.
2. Anti-Union: Beacon will promote work practices that are anti-union and about ‘being flexible’. ‘Flexibility’ is just a catch phrase to take orders from management and it’s what the HSE bosses dream of. Beacon will be promoted in the media as a ‘model’ in this regard.
3. Free- Loading: Beacon will build on public land. But its hospital will actually be physically linked to the existing CUH so as to be able to avail of public facilities – paid for from PAYE taxes!

The arrival of Beacon at CUH in Cork is far from a done-deal. There is opposition but it’s not linked. There’s concern but no one is quite sure what to do next. We can stop Beacon but this means joining together. At the centre of any opposition must be health workers in Cork and in particularly those at CUH. Over the next while anarchists will be putting out more information about the need to oppose Baekon. If you interested in helping us do this then get in touch.

From Rebal Worker Issue 1

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