I wouldn’t be alive without the NHS, and nor would my wife, and nor would my son, so it’s a cause that’s very, very dear to my heart. Less selfishly, it’s also dear to my heart because it’s paid for by general taxation, and is free to anyone at the point of entry, and at the point of exit, and is therefore a service for everyone, regardless of their income. However, while I recognise that certain types of cost-cutting reforms may be required, I cannot trust the Tory-led government to do so responsibly. Despite David Cameron promising to protect the NHS from “top-down reorganisation,” and promising to protect frontline services from the coalition government’s swingeing nationwide programme of cuts, he and the Tories have lied.
Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill proposes exactly the sort of “top-down organisation” that David Cameron said wouldn’t happen on his watch, and is a monstrosity, as almost everyone involved in the health service recognises (see here, here, here and here for examples).
However, despite colossal opposition, the government has refused to scrap it, and is now trying to push it through the House of Lords. See here for information about the proposed privatisation that the government doesn’t want to you to see, and see here for information about Lansley’s ties to private companies eager to make money out of the NHS. And for information about how the government’s cuts are already undermining frontline services, see this report in yesterday’s Guardian.
I have covered this saga since it began, and will continue to do so, but for now I’d like merely to ask you, if you haven’t yet signed the 38 Degrees petition to save the NHS from the Tories’ juggernaut of privatisation, to PLEASE do so now, and then to forward it to everyone you know. You can share it via Facebook here, and via Twitter here.
Over 450,000 people have signed so far, and 38 Degrees (a people-led campaigning organisation, for those not in the know) would like to reach 500,000 in time for Thursday’s important meeting with Lib Dem members of the House of Lords, when legal experts commissioned by 38 Degrees will be presenting their damning findings about how the Tories’ bill WILL destroy the NHS as we know it.
I covered the legal findings in my article, “Save the NHS: Make No Mistake, the Government Plans to Privatise Our Precious Health Service,” but I don’t want to provide too much distraction right now. The findings are also here on the 38 Degrees website, and what they prove, above all, is that, if the Tories have their way, the NHS will become a heavily privatised organisation that is no longer even nominally under the control of parliament. As Jacqueline Davis, a consultant radiologist in north London, the co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, and a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public, wrote in the Guardian:
They [the legal experts] found that the bill does indeed “remove the duty of the secretary of state to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946.″ Furthermore, a “hands-off clause” will “severely curtail the secretary of state’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible.” They conclude the government can now wash its hands of the NHS, while the likelihood of a postcode lottery increases and local accountability decreases.
They also conclude that the bill “will increase competition within the NHS at the expense of collaboration and integration and/or make it almost inevitable that UK and EU competition law will apply as if it were a utility like gas or telecoms.” So despite the coalition’s repeated denials, this legal opinion believes that “these plans will lead to a system geared heavily in favour of private companies.”
So if you want to save the NHS, please sign the petition, and ask everyone you know to do so too.
The text of the petition is as follows:
To the Coalition government,
Our NHS is precious — we won’t forgive you if you ruin it
- Don’t break up our health service and hand it to private healthcare companies.
- Listen to the real experts — doctors, nurses and patients – when they give warnings about these plans.
- Don’t rush through massive changes without testing them properly first.
- Protect patient care — don’t cut beds, wards, doctors or nurses.
38 Degrees also notes:
Right now, the government is pushing through changes to our health service which could spell the end of the NHS as we know it. Meanwhile, a funding squeeze means wards are closing and doctors and nurses are being laid off.
Together, we can stop this and save our health service for future generations. We proved that huge petitions can help make the government back down. Now, we need to do the same again to save our NHS.
Sign the petition above to make sure that David Cameron knows how much we care about our health services.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Save the NHS.
I indeed against NHS reform period
this is madness stop now.
Thanks, Irvin and D. Very good to hear from you.
On Facebook, Ann Alexander wrote:
Signed and shared, Andy. Didn’t know about this petition until now.
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
I can’t sign this, since I don’t have a UK postal code. But I’ll share it.
Nicholas Racz wrote:
As a Canadian who’s seen the horrible impact of privatization on a great socialized medical system, I’m happy to sign and share. First it’s the selective privatization of a few services. The inevitable (and calculated) outcome is erosion of the system….less workability…followed by more privatization to fix what was never broken in the first place. A nasty and slippery slope…
Thanks, Ann, George and Nicholas. And George, I think anyone can sign it, but if not why don’t you use my postcode — I can pretend that all my friends around the world live with me in a giant cyberhouse: SE4 1XY.
Monique D’hooghe wrote:
i just moved in with you, andy :o)
Nicholas Racz wrote:
Btw…i live in London now…so no cyber home requ’d
Thanks, Monique. Welcome! And Nicholas, greetings from a hillside in the south-eastern bit of the traditional, physically real London …
Nicholas Racz wrote:
right back at ya from NW6
I initially posted a mention of this on Facebook, before I wrote an article, and Dejanka Bryant wrote:
I will quote your status, Andy, if you don’t mind. It’s informative.
Go ahead, Dejanka. Thanks. And thanks also, Nicholas. I’m metaphorically waving at you across the vast people-filled valley of the Thames, which most people never see from any kind of elevation. I love Primrose Hill as a vantage point in the north, and One Tree Hill in the south, at Honor Oak, although most people don’t know about it.
Nicholas Racz wrote:
As it happens, we’re on Crediton Hill. Lovely view of all of southern half of London from my desk. Btw… would be good to chat sometime by phone if you have a sec. We’re developing a feature on subject of control orders. would be good for you to know about….
Happy to talk, Nicholas. I’ll send you a message with my phone number.
Louise Gordon wrote:
Rosie Much wrote:
Thanks Andy. Already signed before sitting on Westminster Bridge that day!
Thanks, Louise and Rosie. Always good to hear from you, Louise, and Rosie, it’s very good to meet you.
Rosie Much wrote:
Hi Andy, we met briefly at Portcullis House – can’t remember exactly what the occasion was. Moazzam was supposed to be there but couldn’t make it. Thank you for your work Andy.
Thanks, Rosie. That was in June, at the screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” with Caroline Lucas, wasn’t it?
Rosie Much wrote:
Yes very good film.
Charmaine Dolan wrote:
Done and shared
Thanks, Rosie. I’m up in Aberdeen showing the film on Friday. A long way to go from London, but I imagine there’ll be lovely people. I went in March last year with Omar Deghayes, and we were very warmly received.
And thanks also, Charmaine. The petition has now reached 458,773 signatures!
Save the NHS. It seems under the Tories – it will end up meaning ‘No Health Services’.
Yes! Thanks. Murtaza. Good to hear from you.
2pm today — 472,310 signatures! Keep them coming!
Thursday, 15 minutes past midnight — 481,551 signatures. It’s still possible!
Before long you will be paying to see your doctor, i remember when my dad had to pay for me to see the doctor and he had to go without food to pay the bill in the thirties.
Yes, that’s a legitimate concern, James. And when you frame it like that, I hope people not only realise the extent of the threat to the NHS, and what it means, but also realise how many other services, funded by taxation, are also endangered. It’s important to be reminded of the dreadful time before the NHS was founded, and to celebrate its success as a publicly-funded service available to everyone.
I am up for scrapping the NHS. The service is far inferior to private health care. I have experienced both and would rather my money go to a private health care plan than some socialist dream that reduces the efficiency of health care one would typically receive.
Really? OK, well, each to their own. But an insurance scheme for everyone, sourced though general taxation, works for me, and for most other people, according to polling. it depends if you want universal healthcare or just healthcare for those who can pay, I suppose …
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Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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