The NHS but not as we know it


I met with some very interesting campaigners last night in the West Country, inspiring me with their tales of victory in overturning the moves to privatise eight Stroud community hospitals and health services (including 3,000 nurses and other health workers). I was at their celebratory social last night and picked the brains of one of the campaigners, which should help me with my work. The lawyer was there who made their case possible. See for more information.

It is a tale of not accepting the horrors this government is trying to inflict on the likes of my family, friends and community, pensioners, children, hard-working, unemployed, disabled and young people who rely on the NHS for free health and social care services whenever they need them, not just now but until the day we all die.

In less than five years this government’s health reforms will no doubt see charges introduced for a GP appointment, maybe even charges to stay in hospital overnight. Yet I can not recall anyone mentioning this to me on doorstep campaigning for the Labour Party or in social or family circles. People are either unaware of what lies ahead or maybe feel they can not change things that are already in motion, I really do not know.

Postcode rationing of medication is also on the horizon by the unaccountable CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) private consortia, which meet in private and do not produce public minutes of their proceedings, deciding the fate of our local health service provision.

One of the government’s own ministers said of these CCGs: “To have independent, non-elected quangos responsible for £100bn of public money is simply incredible,” Norman Lamb, minister in the Department for Health.

People need to wake up to what is happening in their country, the lies this government has peddled since day one, in fact from before the Coalition was even formed. The Tories promised ‘no top down reorganisation of the NHS’ before the last general election, then pushed ahead with the biggest reforms of the National Health Service this country has witnessed in 63 years.

None of these root and branch reforms appeared in the Coalition Agreement of 2010. Yet, the LibDems traipsed through the parliamentary lobbies, supporting their political masters this year and the reforms are now law.

I tried my best to shine a light on all of this, over two and a half years of campaigning, which felt like shouting in a locked room with the sound on mute. My efforts to be part of the Save our NHS campaign of this year included a street stall and petition, but I felt pretty much like a lone voice in my area.

Added to this, the national media virtually ignored the issue, despite utter uproar from the Labour Party in the Lords and Commons over the bill and amongst grass roots campaigners across the UK. All the more astonishing considering the serious and damaging ramifications of the Health and Social Care Act (2012).

Of course, after the bill was passed into law, we then found out the huge numbers of Tory and Lib Dem MPs and Peers with personal vested interests in private health companies.

It makes me utterly sick and disgusted. Not just at the system and pernicious Tory Lib Dem Coalition but worried about a seemingly apathetic public, who seem to be resigned to letting the government do whatever they like, without any mandate whatsoever. Again, I ask: why?

The Tories campaigned in the last election for efficiency savings, not the savage cuts we are currently witnessing to public services, jobs, even health and safety laws and cutting at the very fabric of our communities. We are about to see cuts and job losses on an even more monumental scale. 88% of the government’s cuts are yet to come in, £32.5million poundsworth of services to be cut in Bristol in 2013. While charities, gifted with picking-up the work of public sector workers through the Tory hatred of public sector workers and the state providing for the people, the much maligned Big Society has proved to be an utter farce. Meanwhile, charities are facing closure because of the savaging of grant funding.

Community-based charity HAWKS in south Bristol where I work needs £45K in core funding (since Bristol City Council LibDems cut 60% from the Youth Links grants) by the end of January just to keep the doors open in 2013. Any wealthy benefactors out there, please get in touch ASAP. Please get in touch – or via Twitter @AmandaRamsay

Many of the government’s moves are possible to reject, with the right team of legal and political minds and community campaigners, along with public support. The Stroud campaign had all three.