The NHS started in 1948 as a taxation and national insurance funded service, free to everyone, regardless of ability to pay but research suggests that England is now well down the road to having an American-style private health system. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act absolved the UK government of providing a national health service and forced the new Clinical Commissioning Groups to put each health service contract out to bids from the private sector. Around 15-20% of NHS services are now privatised and the companies skim off between 20-30% in running costs and profits for shareholders, from every £1 we pay them from our taxes. Sustainability Transformation Plans insist that £3bn of NHS debt must be paid off by 2020. This will be done by cutting services, hospitals and staff.
Since the 1980s ALL governments have been slowly changing the structure of the NHS so the lucrative bits could eventually be sold to private health companies. Two Tory politicians, Oliver Letwin and Jeremy Hunt, the current Health Minister, have written books on how to privatise the NHS. According to large parts of the media the NHS is failing now because we have an ageing population which needs complex medical treatment, and that the country cannot afford to keep the NHS free, the way it was. However, when the NHS was set up, the country was bankrupt. We are now the 6th richest country in the world, and yet the welfare state, including state education and the NHS, is being dismantled.
Collective action by workers, campaigners and communities can make a difference and there is now a local Neighbourhood Group in the Seven Dials.
As reported in last month’s online Whistler, the 7Dials Neighbourhood Group is now up and running. Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.
We’ve had two discussion meetings in the upstairs room at the Duke of Wellington, sharing experiences and learning on a broader level about the frightening levels of privatisation, failures and wastage through selling off our local NHS services. It’s very worrying to realise that so many of us haven’t a clue about what’s actually happening to our NHS in Brighton & Hove.
- Big increases in consultants appointment / treatment waiting times
- A 25% drop in number of GPs – 6 surgery closures in Brighton & Hove in the last two years, leaving thousands seeking another surgery with spaces
- Private company Optum now vetting all GP referrals in order to reduce hospital appointments by 25%
- Attempted and/or failed privatisation of musculo-skeletal services (knees and hips) locally and elsewhere
- Massive drop in number of available hospital beds
- Endoscopy under a new unpleasant process because they won’t employ qualified staff for the recovery room
- Child health services massively cut, health visitors to be replaced by Nursery Nurses
This has to be our focus for local activities, sharing the knowledge with everyone in our locality. To that end, we are inviting anyone and everyone to come along to our meeting again upstairs at the Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road (not far from the Dials, above the station) on Monday 26 June. 7.30 – 9pm. We’ll be putting invitations through doors so look out for your reminder!
On Saturday 20 May we had our first stall in the Seven Dials, where crowds of people dropped by, picked up leaflets, signed our petition and chatted to us. We urged everyone, for our children and grandchildren’s sakes, to use their vote for the NHS.
Whatever the result of the election, there’s still work to be done to protect our local NHS and social services.
If you’d like a blue poster for your window, contact Sussex Defend the NHS on email@example.com or, even better, come along to 7Dials Neighbourhood Group on Monday 26 June, 7.30pm upstairs in the Duke of Wellington, Upper Gloucester Road, collect a poster and tell us your ideas for action!
Our local Brighton & Hove campaigning group, Sussex Defend the NHS, has launched a brilliant new locality-based project, Neighbourhood Groups. You may have noticed blue and white posters put up in windows around the area urging us all to Join the Fight for Our NHS. These are part of Sussex Defend the NHS taking their campaign into local communities all over the city. They want enable those of us who don’t find it easy to get to central locations for events for one reason or another in busy lives, and who are keen to learn about the devastation that is happening as a result of this government’s policies, to be able to join the discussion and spread the information around the neighbourhood.
The new 7Dials Neighbourhood Group had its first meeting at the Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road in mid-February. As a result, some were inspired to get up to London on March 4th for the big march and rally Our NHS. On 5th March some went down to the Duke of York’s for a special Our NHS showing of Ken Loach’s Spirit of ’45. The film was followed by a Q&A session and resulted in loads more people coming forward to join or start up a local neighbourhood group to follow up with local activities.
Thinking to the future, our 7Dials group organised themselves for a lunchtime leafletting session for BHASVIC students on their lunch break by the Dials. This was a first time for members of the group, and they were very good at it, sparking a lot of conversations with the students and passers-by, raising awareness of the threats our health and social services are under. More poster distribution, doorstep conversations, stalls and other activities are planned. All are welcome to come along and find out more. The NHS has always been there for us. But, as Aneurin Bevan said back in 1946, ‘The NHS will last only as long as there are folk to fight for it.’ We have to be those folk!
If you’d like a blue poster for your window, contact Sussex Defend the NHS on firstname.lastname@example.org or even better, come along to 7Dials Neighbourhood Group on Monday 27th March, 7.30pm upstairs in the Duke of Wellington, Upper Gloucester Road, collect a poster and tell us your ideas for action!