On Wednesday the 24th of May there was a meeting of Nursing Students at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. The meeting, which was arranged by the the normally reactionary Student Union, was the result of sustained pressure by the increasingly militant trainee nurses. It came as a result of the compulsory redundancy (a.k.a. sacking) of 18 members of staff.
At the meeting Vice Chancellor Bill Macmillan attempted to justify the cuts, saying they were "neccesary in an increasingly dynamic environment". He stated that "every year less and less people want to do nursing" but he did not draw the glaringly obvious conclusion that the scandalously low pay of nurses had something to do with this.
After the academics had made their points the meeting was opened to the floor. Nurses from the annex in Kings Lynn asked if it would close and that they would therefore have to drive nearly 50 miles to Norwich each day. When they were told that Kings Lynn was going to close, a mood of anger filled the room. When the academics said that it was O.k. because they were going to lay on a free bus service a particulary militant nurse heckled "what good is that if your trying to raise three kids". Astonishingly the University is misleading this year's intake of students due to arrive in September by not telling them anything about the imminent closure.
What saddened me most about the meeting was the fact that most of the academics seemed to think these cuts were inevitable. I intervened and stated that far from being inevitable these cuts were a result of the attempt of the government to slowly relinquish responsiblity for health care and pass it to the private sector. I pointed out that in nations such as Holland and Sweden where they tax the rich more, there are much better health systems. My intervention seemed to really annoy the academics who accused me of making political points, thereby causing the absurd implication that their decision to fire 18 members of staff was somehow apolitical.
After the meeting we set up a stall to sell 'Socialist Appeal'. The £200,000 per annum Vice Chancellor walked past and in an act of insane optimism we attempted to sell him a copy of the Appeal. Unsurprisingly we were greeted with a big fat 'No'.