Please Support the Campaign for the Reinstatement of a Publicly-Owned NHS

4.5.15

Save Our NHS: posters from a rally in 2012.Ever since the Tory-led coalition government passed the wretched Health and Social Care Act in 2011 (after David Cameron blatantly lied to the British people, by falsely promising “no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS”), privatisation of the greatest and most important institution in the UK, the NHS (National Health Service, founded in 1948), has been increasing to an alarming degree.

As Headway, the brain injury association, described the impact of the Health and Social Care Act, “The Secretary of State no longer has a duty to provide health services through the NHS, which increases the opportunity for private health care firms to deliver many services that were previously operated by the NHS.” The bill also replaced the bodies responsible for commissioning services — Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities — with Clinical Commissioning Groups, nominally under the control of GPs (responsible for 60-80% of the NHS budget), but also providing another opportunity for private health care firms to infiltrate the NHS.

I campaigned against the passage of the Health and Social Care Act at the time (see here and here), and then became heavily involved in the successful campaign to save my local hospital, in Lewisham, in south east London, from savage cuts (see here, here and here). Last year I campaigned to resist the Tories’ spiteful response to Lewisham’s success, which became known as the “hospital closure clause” (see here and here), and covered the People’s March for the NHS, a grass-roots initiative that involved a recreation of the Jarrow March from the 1930s to save the NHS (see here and here).

One of the organisers of the People’s March for the NHS was Joanna Adams, who has continued to maintain a campaigning website, 999 Call for the NHS, which, on Saturday, had an open letter published in the Guardian, signed by numerous health professionals and high-profile supporters, which I’m posting below.

The letter also asks people to support a private member’s bill for the reinstatement of the NHS, which was introduced on March 11, 2015 by 12 MPs from five political parties — Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion), Andrew George (Liberal Democrat, St. Ives), John Pugh (Liberal Democrat, Southport), Michael Meacher (Labour, Oldham West and Royton), Chris Williamson (Labour, Derby North), Roger Godsiff (Labour, Birmingham Hall Green), Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North), Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North), John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington), Dr. Eilidh Whiteford (SNP, Banff and Buchan), Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru, Arfon) and Katy Clark (Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran).

Also still on the books, it is worth noting, is a private member’s bill introduced by Clive Efford, the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill, which aims to repeal the worst aspects of the Health and Social Care Act. In November, as I explained here, Efford’s bill passed its second reading, when 241 MPs voted for it — whose names can be found here, and should be useful for pro-NHS campaigners. Both bills will be considered by the new Parliament, and it may be instructive for those who want to know more to read the analysis from last November, by academic and pro-NHS campaigner Caroline Molloy, of the strengths and weaknesses of Clive Efford’s bill.

Introducing the NHS reinstatement bill in March, Caroline Lucas wrote:

The Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service — with time and flexibility for implementation — and so reversing 25 years of marketisation, for an NHS that is truly public, joined-up, fully protected and free at the point of delivery.

Scotland and Wales have already reversed marketisation and restored their NHS without immense upheaval. England can too.

Far from being another top-down, centralised re-structuring, the Bill — crucially — reinstates the Secretary of State’s responsibility for the provision of services, something the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA) severed. The Bill would strip away the costly market mechanisms that waste NHS money which could be spent on patient care.

Caroline Lucas said, “We must stop our NHS being whittled down to little more than a corporate logo. The public service we love is being dismantled and defined by bidding wars and market structures that waste billions which could be spent on patient care. Our public health service should be run with patients, not profit, at its heart. Its rescue package must be rigorous and comprehensive to fully protect it from the private sector. I’m honoured to be presenting just such a Bill and with such strong cross-party support.”

She added, “The NHS is a core part of our national identity — but as things stand, it’s under immediate and growing threat.  What the founders of our NHS achieved was radical and far-reaching — and we have a duty to ensure that reinstating their vision of the publicly provided NHS we still want is at the heart of our General Election debate.”

If you’d like to add your name to the open letter from ‘999 Call for the NHS,’ please visit this page.

Also, on the eve of the General Election, the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 is asking people to write to the candidates in their constituencies to ask them to support the bill for the reinstatement of the NHS, which you can do here.

The bill has the support of many MPs and candidates, and you can find details here.

Please do get involved if you care about the NHS, and please also note the Labour Party’s position. As described in the Guardian on April 21, “the Labour manifesto commits to repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012 passed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. It would end competition between providers, in favour of making NHS organisations the preferred providers of services, impose a cap on profits made by companies providing clinical services and ensure the NHS was protected from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Treaty.” Good news, if Labour can beat the Tories to No. 10 on May 7 — and if they stick to their promises. Clearly, though, whatever else may be up in the air, the future of the NHS in England is particularly threatened if the Tories manage to stay in power.

See below for the ‘999 Call For The NHS’ letter to the Guardian:

Support the bill to reinstate the NHS
Letter to the Guardian, May 1, 2015

On 11 March, the NHS bill 2015 was presented in parliament with cross-party support. Its policies would comprehensively reinstate the NHS throughout England. The bill’s policies restore the secretary of state for health’s duty to provide universal listed health services throughout England based on people’s needs and not their ability to pay. The bill abolishes the expensive internal and external market, stops the break up of the NHS and returns the NHS to public control and accountability. This is vital to protect the NHS from EU trade treaties and others in the pipeline like the TTIP.

It will end the high costs to the NHS of PFI schemes. By making PFI debts a Treasury responsibility, it removes the exorbitant costs of PFI from the NHS and enables the state to negotiate restoration of PFI services and assets into public ownership. The British Medical Association, representing 150,000 doctors, has stated publicly that its members want a publicly funded and publicly provided National Health Service. It supports the principles behind the legislation which the NHS bill proposes.

Many MPs and parliamentary candidates and some political parties now support the Bill. We urge the public to support the NHS bill 2015 and to ensure that their parliamentary candidates now commit to supporting the reinstatement of the NHS through the bill, and to ensuring it is in the first Queen’s speech after the election.

Joanna Adams, founder, 999 Call For The NHS campaign group
Dr. Jackie Applebee, GP, chair, Tower Hamlets BMA
Lady Joan Bakewell, broadcaster and writer
Alan Bennett, author
Natalie Bennett, leader, Green party
Dr. Naureen Bhatti, GP, Limehouse
Dr. Kambiz Boomla, Ex-chair, City and East London Medical Committee
William Boyd, author
Lord Melvyn Bragg, author and broadcaster
Sandra Carey, midwife
Janet Chadwick, nurse practitioner
Marcus Chown, author, journalist and broadcaster
Ben Clements, community mental health nurse
Dr. Liz Davies, Reader in Child Protection
Dr. Robert Delamont, consultant neurologist
Dolmen Domikles, mental health worker, Sussex NHS Foundation Trust
Fiona Duby, international health & development consultant
Dr. Paul Evans, director, NHS Support Federation
Sir Richard Eyre, film, TV, theatre and opera director
Craig Farlow, ‘300-miler’, 999 People’s Jarrow March 2014
Dr Richard Fielding, professor, medical psychology in public health
Joe Finlayson, community mental health nurse
Dr. Peter Fisher, president, Doctors for the NHS
Shirley Franklin, Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition
Dr. Patrick French, Doctors For The NHS
Dr. Wendy Geraghty, lead clinician, Lewisham CAMHS
Dr. Bob Gill, GP, National Health Action Party
Roger Graef, TV/film producer and director
Jacqueline Gruhn, commissioner, adult care
Alun Hamnett, senior technical officer, blood and transplant
Earl of Harewood, film and theatre producer
Paul Hardman, paramedic
Jean Hay-Burns, psychotherapist
Carolyn Heads, quality & HR manager
John Hilary, executive director, War on Want
Dr. Kate Hudson, general secretary, CND
Christine Hyde, retired, ‘300-miler’
Dr. Bridget Innes, out-of-hours GP
Dr. Louise Irvine, chair, Save Lewisham Hospital campaign
Dr. Coral Jones, GP, Hackney and TTIP activist
Ben Judd, team manager, AWP NHS Trust
Linda Kaucher, StopTTIP
Dr. Jeremiah Kelly, researcher
Lady Helena Kennedy, barrister
Neshane Kunanathan, biomedical scientist
Dr. Alan Lawlor, chemist
Dr. Anna Livingstone, GP, CCG clinical lead, Tower Hamlets
Ken Loach, filmmaker
Professor Rajan Madhok, retired NHS medical director, ‘300-miler’
John McCarthy, writer and broadcaster
Sir Jonathan Miller, theatre and opera director
Sienna Miller, actor
Caroline Molloy, editor, OurNHS, openDemocracy
Michael Morpurgo, writer, co-founder, Farms for City Children
Clare Morpurgo, co-founder, Farms for City Children
Anita Nuckhir, occupational therapist
Dr. Katherine Oliver, general manager
Dr. Tony O’Sullivan, Lewisham consultant paediatrician
Lord David Owen, former health minister and neurologist
Janet Patrick, children’s social care expert
Clive Peedell, co-leader, National Health Action Party
Peter Pinkney, president, RMT Union
Professor Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy
Alexandra Pringle, group editor-in-chief, Bloomsbury Publishing
Jonathan Pryce, actor
Sir Steven Redgrave, five-times Olympic Gold medal oarsman
Professor Chris Redman, professor emeritus of obstetric medicine
Professor Sue Richards, co-chair, Keep Our NHS Public (KONP)
Dr. Adam Riley, consultant
Peter Roderick, barrister, drafter of NHS bill
Dr. Hermione Roy, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist
Dr. Helen Salisbury, GP
Professor Wendy Savage, president, Keep Our NHS Public (KONP)
Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel, joint chair, Politics of Health Group
Dr. Ron Singer, chair, doctors’ section of Unite
David Skidmore, A&E nurse
Annie Smedley, senior OT, NHS
Stephen Smith, ambulance EMT2
Clive Stafford Smith, international human rights lawyer
Rick Stroud, author and film director
Dr. Richard Walshaw, scientist
Dr. Eric Watts, chair, Doctors for the NHS
Dr. Charles Webster, official historian of the NHS

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers). He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — 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. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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7 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    With just three days to go until the General Election in the UK , here’s a reminder of the importance of voting wisely with regard to the NHS – in which I encourage you to support the bill for the reinstatement of the NHS, put forward by 12 MPs in March (including Caroline Lucas, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn) by asking your Parliamentary candidates to support the bill, and to sign an open letter initiated by the campaigning group 999 Call for the NHS.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    Good luck to you all in the UK and drive those Tories to ground.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    I hope so, Jan! I have no great hope that the Parliamentary Labour Party can grasp the importance of moving decisively away from a neo-liberal model, and from the hideous myth of the need for savage, socially destructive austerity that has taken root here, but the Tories must lose, after the cruel and disdainful way they have treated so many millions of people since coming to power five years ago.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Jan Strain wrote:

    We feel your pain, Andy – we are, also, gripped with the sociopathy of neoliberalism. If you can make a dent in it, then, maybe, we can too.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s a pestilence across the face of the earth, Jan – a concerted effort by the greedy, by those who have an invented sense of entitlement (far more than the poorer people they blame), by the sociopaths and psychopaths in positions of power and influence, to roll back the clock to a time when the masses had nothing and were disposable. And they’ve managed to convince millions of our fellow citizens to not have a clue about what’s going on …

  6. damo says...

    Tick tock,tick tock ,said the clock were approching the midnight hour a point of no return ..everything has to change and change for the better ….and one of the first things on the list is scrapeing the Tories of from the bottom of our shoes ,dashing them from power and makeing sure they never have power ever again ..then hopefully people awake and the people of the world rid themselves of the rest of the neoliberals and grasping capitalists ..only then can we hopefully start to restore the world….tick tock,tick tick…dxx

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    I hear you, Damo. Were you at the demo yesterday? If so, how did it go?
    Please share my anti-Tory, anti-UKIP song ‘Tory Bullshit Blues’ if you want! https://soundcloud.com/thefourfathers/tory-bullshit-blues

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. 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 (The State of London).
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