70 YEARS of the NHS are being celebrated with a mass demonstration today in central London supported by the TUC and 11 other health trade unions. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth will be among those who will address the crowds.
Corbyn said ahead of the demonstration: ‘It is almost 70 years since the NHS was founded by a Labour government and it’s still our proudest achievement. ‘It was the first comprehensive health service in the world built on the principle that healthcare should be available to all on the basis of need, not ability to pay.
‘What the Conservatives have done to our NHS, first under David Cameron, and then Theresa May, is appalling. ‘Deliberate underfunding of services, and squeezing the pay of our brilliant doctors, nurses and health staff, has pushed our NHS to the brink.
‘Every day there are shocking stories of unacceptable waiting times, ambulance delays and patients left on trolleys in corridors. And they’ve spent years selling off and contracting out our NHS bit by bit, leaving the NHS to be sued by private companies, like Virgin. ‘Labour will end privatisation because our NHS should be about healthcare for all, not profits for a few.
‘Last week, the government finally announced some more money for our health service. But you know what? It’s simply not enough. Not enough to make up for the last eight years of slashed budgets and worsening standards, falling morale and loss of staff. In fact, it would barely keep the NHS at a standstill. A Labour government would give the NHS the money it needs. It would be able to do so because we’re not afraid to ask big business and the richest to pay their fair share of tax.
‘We must stand up for our health service and its incredible staff who have carried our NHS on their shoulders these last eight years, while the government brought it to its knees.’
London Region BMA member Anna Athow said, ‘We applaud the foundation of the NHS in 1948.
‘It revolutionised the lives of the whole population and has vastly improved health and longevity of the population. ‘But the NHS today is being destroyed and Americanised. ‘It is now in a state of crisis, brought about by the huge funding cuts since 2008 and the legal abolition of its founding structures by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
‘The appointment of Simon Stevens, former vice president of the biggest US health insurance company, as head of NHS England, let the wolf in the door and his Five Year Forward View is dismantling the NHS, at the same time as American Insurance models – Accountable Care Organisations and Integrated Care Systems– are being forced in. ‘The unions must stop this destruction. We want our dismantled District General Hospitals and GP surgeries and cottage hospitals back.
‘We want our hospitals renationalised and brought back into public ownership, with the end of foundation trusts’ businesses, and the return of public land and assets sold off in the Naylor firesale. ‘Private Finance Initiative debts must be annulled and the private companies, and management consultancies shown the door. ‘We want the 100,000 vacancies for doctors, nurses and paramedics filled, ending rota gaps, and ensuring safe staff levels, so that staff once more feel pride in the standard of care they are providing. Tuition fees must be abolished and the training funds urgently augmented.
‘The colossal market bureaucracy must be swept aside and replaced with a public accountable administration, dedicated to care according to need, for the whole population, so as to provide high quality care for all according to need. ‘The only way the NHS and social care can get the funds they need is by bringing in a workers’ government and nationalising the banks and the big pharmaceutical companies, and planning the economy for workers’ needs.
‘Protesting is not enough. The time for political industrial action by the whole trade union movement, to save our NHS and restore our NHS is now! ‘The privatising Tory government has to be brought down!’