Now is the time to stake our claim for a return to publicly-provided healthcare – we have a right to it, and it belongs to us, We’ve just celebrated 75 years of advances and innovation in healthcare, and we unreservedly thank all NHS staff for their commitment and dedication, not least during the time of covid. But is it all about celebration?
What was once a healthcare service which ranked as the best in the world has now, since 2015, fallen to 10th place globally. We are faced with cuts, closures, and downgrading of departments. Outsourcing continues – private companies are milking millions in profits from NHS contracts, with shareholders laughing all the way to the bank. And we have a major staffing crisis with over 132,000 staffing vacancies, and over 7 million on waiting lists. The long-awaited NHS Workforce Plan published earlier this month magics up numbers of newly qualified doctors and nurses – but they take years to train, and the same document pays scant regard to how we are to retain staff once qualified. And can we trust this government’s plan in the first place? We’re still waiting for those 40 new hospitals. So, all in all, no wonder our NHS staff are either leaving their professions or striking to save their pay and conditions. Our doctors and nurses need to be treated with more respect.
Failing or being failed?
So – is the NHS failing? Or is it more accurate to state that the NHS is being failed? We see a managed decline which is politically driven and reflects political ideals and a drive to a two-tier health system, underpinned by health insurance and with shareholders creaming off profit. We see a strategic, planned, long-term, politically driven, intentional run-down of a publicly provided and publicly-funded healthcare system to enable a growth in the private sector. Most of the people in the UK can see that. And that is why everything points to the Tories being out of office next year – very soon we will, most probably, have a different government and this brings with it an opportunity.
Now, in this pre-election period, it is vital that we stand together to defend our NHS from those who seek to undermine its core values. Now, more than ever, we need to state very clearly what we want in the future, and we need to make this crystal clear to ALL political parties who are busy drafting out manifesto, in prep for the ballot box. We need a fully public NHS – publicly funded and publicly provided. This isn’t time to ‘reform or retreat’, it’s time to return to founding principles.
So, we celebrate the work of our committed NHS staff, and we thank them, and we recognise the great successes of the NHS in the past. And also, NOW, before next May, is the time to contact our MPs to demand a publicly provided service fit for purpose for another 75 years and more.
You can find the name and email address of your MP by entering your postcode here.
Information about Keep Our NHS Public North East is here