Over two hundred doctors, medical staff and health campaigners on Sunday welcomed two NHS consultants at the end of their ‘Bevan’s Run’ against the coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill.
‘Thank you everybody! Let’s save the NHS and kill this Bill!’ declared Clive Peedell, co-chair of the NHS Consultants Association as he and fellow Association member Dr David Wilson arrived to cheers outside the Department of Health in Whitehall.
News Line spoke to some of the ‘welcome committee’ as they awaited the pair’s arrival.
Janet Shapiro of Defend Haringey Health Services Coalition said: ‘I’m here to greet the runners, consultants Clive Peedell and David Wilson who are running to alert the public and health professionals to the imminent destruction of the NHS.
‘The Health Bill is coming up to the report stage and final reading in the House of Lords.
‘It hasn’t been amended satisfactorily and it’s a mess.
‘The only way is to throw the Bill out completely.
‘The BMA has opposed it and the National Pensioners Convention is working with the BMA.
‘The BMA need to make a much bigger campaign of opposition.’
June Hautot of Wandsworth Keep Our NHS Public said: ‘I’m here to convince Tory MPs, bishops and peers to vote against the Bill.
‘Ninety-eight per cent of GPs want to stop the Bill.
‘They have realised how devastating it would be for the NHS and the public if the Bill is passed.
‘In 1979, when Maggie Thatcher first started this by closing hospitals, there was such an outcry they pulled back a little bit.
‘In latter years privatisation has been going through by the back door.
‘We are totally opposed to the Bill going through.
‘It’s taxpayers’ money they are playing with, and the taxpayers don’t even have a say in it.
‘There’s always our money for war but not for welfare.’
On the struggle for Chase Farm Hospital, she added: ‘I’m all for occupations.
‘That’s our only ammunition to stop closures.’
BMA Council member David Wrigley told News Line: ‘We’re fighting to defend the NHS, to try to stop the Health and Social Care Bill in its tracks.
‘We have to stop the onset of privatisation in the NHS, and to put patients before profits.
‘My motion to the BMA Council called for complete opposition to the Bill.
‘UK doctors do not support the Bill, contrary to what the prime minister and health secretary Lansley espouse.’
Asked about Chase Farm Hospital, he added: ‘I support the fight to defend district general hospitals as a bedrock of the NHS.’
Semi-retired GP Brian Fisher, chair of the Socialist Health Association, said: ‘The Health and Social Care Bill is extremely dangerous for patients.
‘It will lead to a NHS that is less safe. Patient care will be fragmented and people will be delivering care for profit rather than for patients.
‘There will be a conflict of interest, particularly for GPs.
‘The BMA and Royal College of GPs should campaign vigorously against the Bill and insist on it being dropped.
‘If the Bill were to be passed, then the BMA and Royal College of GPs should be supporting GPs walking away from the arrangement.
‘We will have more responsibility and no power. It’s a nightmare.’
Another GP, Louise Irvine added: ‘I’m here to support Clive Peedell and David Wilson on their heroic effort to raise awareness and to oppose the Health and Social Care Bill.
‘The Bill will destroy the NHS as a public service and we have to stop that.
‘We have to unite and stop this Bill.’
Dr David Wilson told News Line on arrival: ‘Nobody wants this Bill.
‘We’ve had to go to extreme measures to make people listen.
‘Ninety-eight per cent of GPs in a poll this week said they want the Bill dropped in its entirety.
‘How can the government enact a Bill that is so unpopular.
‘This is their Poll Tax happening.
‘The unions have to stop the Bill. We should have concerted action to stop the Bill.’
Among those greeting the two consultants was the secretary of the Bevan Society as well as members of the BMA Council David Wrigley and Jacky Davis, and Chair of the Royal College of GPs Clare Gerada.
Dr Peedell told the crowd outside Richmond House: ‘This is a privatisation Bill.
‘They want the private sector to deliver the vast majority of care and leave the unprofitable part to the public.
‘The Tories and Lib Dems are a disgrace. The coalition is fighting for their political lives instead of fighting for patients.
‘The NHS is the fabric of the nation.
‘If this Bill goes through, it will rip this country apart.
‘Get together and stop this awful Bill.’
Dr Wilson declared: ‘Nobody wants this Bill. Ninety-eight per cent of GPs want the Bill dropped.
‘How can the government enact a Bill that is so unpopular. We have to stop it.’
Clare Gerada told the impromptu rally: ‘Bevan said the NHS will survive as long as one person is left to fight for it.
‘The NHS is too precious to let it wither through this Bill.’
Health expert Allyson Pollock said: ‘We have to fight, and encourage every peer to vote down this Bill.
‘The Bill will remove the entitlement to health care.
‘Take to the streets with the campaign.’
Dr Wrigley said: ‘This Bill is about privatisation, for private companies to make profits out of your illness.
‘What happened under the French implant scandal will happen under this Bill.
‘Doctors do not support the Bill. The BMA Council voted to oppose it.’
Health researcher Lucy Reynolds said: ‘The government won’t compromise on the Health Secretary giving up responsibility for health care.
‘American companies will come in,’ she warned and appeals for people to form patient groups.
BMA Council member Jacky Davis declared: ‘It’s a fantastic achievement by Clive and David.
‘Ninety-eight per cent of us have said we don’t want the Bill.
‘It’s about the march for profit and you can stop this.
‘It’s a very dangerous Bill.’