From the TUC

Save our NHS rally: 7 March

30 Jan 2012, By

The House of Lords are to start discussing proposed changes to the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill on 8 February. The seriousness of this Bill cannot be understated. It threatens the very principles on which the National Health Service was founded by turning it into a business where our taxes will pay for private companies to provide our healthcare. Profit will come before patient care. These reforms are being pushed through at a time when the government is asking the NHS to make unprecedented cuts. Despite Government assertions to the contrary, deep concerns about the Bill are held by practitioners and patients from across the health service.  They are also shared by many of the coalitions own supporters, including a number of MPs and Peers, who have criticised what Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary is trying to push through.

Now we are asking anyone who cares about our NHS to join us in a Save our NHS rally in Westminster Central Hall, opposite the Houses of Parliament at 18:00 on 7 March. The rally has been organised by the All Together for the NHS Campaign and brings together a range of unions, professional bodies, patients and members of the public who are opposed to the Bill.

Some changes have been made to the Bill but not nearly enough. Among the proposals still in the Bill will be the extension of competition and markets within the NHS. The private sector will also be able to take over the organising and delivery of NHS services. Only this week we have seen a private company taking over an NHS hospital for the first time, as Circle moves in to the Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire. This will be the future the NHS has to look forward to if the Bill stays in its current form.

NHS hospitals will now be able to get as much as 49% of their income from private patients. As I covered in an earlier blog for Touchstone, this will mean that NHS patients are pushed to the back of the queue in favour of private patients who can pay. There is no doubt that patient care will suffer  while health inequalities and care postcode lotteries are likely to rise.

The cost of the re-organisation is estimated at £3 billion a year and is rising by £1 million a day. This is at a time when the NHS is already being asked to make huge cuts.

The Bill is back in the House of Lords on 8 February for a number of weeks before it returns to the House of Commons for MPs to debate again. The pressure on Andrew Lansley, has been growing in recent weeks with more professional bodies joining the calls to significantly amend or withdraw the bill altogether. The rally is intended to add to that pressure by demonstrating the broad coalition of opposition to bill.

Peers must listen to the concerns of the people that know the NHS best – the staff who work in it. Health workers fear the increased competition and the extension of markets will have a devastating impact on patient care, especially poorer people who will find themselves pushed to the back of ever-growing waiting lists.

We hope the rally on7 March will provide the opportunity for NHS workers and patients to send a loud message across Parliament Square to convince the House of Lords that this Bill would be a disaster for the NHS.

14 Responses to Save our NHS rally: 7 March

  1. Mary Locke
    Jan 30th 2012, 5:50 pm

    The NHS is the jewel in the crown of the welfare state. Founded when the deficit was far larger than now. In 1948 after world war 2.
    Everyone is treated the same. If the Health & Social Care bill is passed it will mean the end of the NHS as we know it. Private companies can bid for services. Privatwe patients will be treated as a priority. This is unfair to those of use who cannot afford to pay.

  2. andrew mccabe
    Jan 30th 2012, 6:41 pm

    Please also support our Demo outside parliament on the 8th of February – the day the Bill is predicted to go to the Lords.

    2.30 p.m. – 8.30 p.m. Old Palace Yard – An open space opposite the Lords.
    8th February.

    For more details go to HackneyKONP.org or e mail HackneyKONP8thFebDemo@gmail.

    This is an official demo supported by KONP, The National Pensioners Convention, London Health Emergency and others.

  3. Clive Peedell
    Jan 30th 2012, 10:44 pm

    As co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, I fully endorse this vitally important rally.
    The public must be made aware of this undemocratic, ideologically driven, and flawed bill, which will undermine the founding principles of the NHS.
    We must fight to keep our NHS a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable health service.
    The NHS does need to improve and evolve, but the Government’s case for change does not stand up to scrutiny. This bill will worsen health inequalities, fragment services, increase commercialisation and privatisation, and bankrupt the NHS. The bill will result in a mixed funding system with an increasing market for health insurance, top ups and co-payments. The most vulnerable in society will no longer have the freedom from fear that the NHS was designed to prevent.

  4. rob sale
    Feb 11th 2012, 12:06 pm

    Great that someone is organising something the silence from the unions has been deafening in last week. But demo should be on the street, in parliament square not tucked away in a hall. Tories are saying bill like the poll tax so let’s fight it like the poll tax.

  5. Sharon Stocker
    Feb 14th 2012, 8:37 pm

    I work in the NHS and I do feel really strongly about these changes they are putting forward and as do many of you I feel this will be the final nail in the coffin for the NHS.
    I have also had to be under a hospital for best part of my life and with out thier dedication and care I would not be here now, and if the goverment make these changes people in the position I was would not have the support of the best service around and would fall by the wayside and just be dismissed by our ever caring goverment.
    I would like to see if they would be so quick to change the system if them and thier families relied on the system as so many of us do and if they would rest so peacefully if they did not have the private sector to turn to would they put thier families health and lives on the line like they are doing with ours.
    there are other ways and its about time they actually put the people first who have fought for this country and grown up here.

  6. June Turnbull
    Feb 14th 2012, 10:48 pm

    I am amazed that Cameron & co. can ignore the voices of so many professionals, patients and general public. I agree with Rob Sale that we need a demo as iconic as the poll tax protest. They need to be reminded that all opponents are voters. They have no mandate for these changes – I cannot call them ‘reforms’ – and were not popular enough to win the election last time. They will not listen until their own self-interest becomes more pressing than their ideology.

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  8. Lynn Pilling
    Feb 23rd 2012, 12:04 pm

    Having worked in the NHS for 25 years and been a patient on a number of occasions I am horrified by the the way this bill will increase the opportunities for private profit making organisations to corrupt the ethos of the NHS. As Clive Peedle stated so clearly above, the NHS must remain publicly provided publicly funded and publicly accountable. It is not good enough to be ‘free at the point of delivery’ if private providers are profiting from tax payers money and ill health. Once the NHS trusts are allowed to offer private services the opportunities for profit making will soar and the ‘free’ services or rather services paid for through taxation will rapidly diminish leaving us with a terrifying system like the USA. Insurance companies already make huge profits out of healthcare and are preparing to make more, note the increase in TV advertising by health insurance companies. Remember the meeting Cameron and Landsley were reported by the Guardian to have held in Autumn 2010 informing private providers and consortiums of the opportunities their new health bill would make available to them. The coalition must scrap this bill altogether.

  9. Kenth Gustafsson
    Feb 23rd 2012, 2:09 pm

    What on earth are you doing tucking away this rally, drastically limiting the numbers, into Central Hall. If you had organised this for a rally outside, anywhere in London, you could have had hundreds of thousands of people turn up. Have you been scared off by the police?

  10. tim rose
    Feb 28th 2012, 3:46 pm

    I don’t mind the idea of taking the Wednesday off to campaign to the NHS, but will you guys consider 2 things …

    1) Greater publicity. I had to look for a demo to attend.
    2) Non union participation, spread the news.
    3) Demonstrate at a weekend, those outside the union movement oppose this too, but their employers may not be too sympathetic.

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SUCCESSFUL RALLY THAT EMBRACES EVERYONE.

    GIVE NO-ONE AN EXCUSE NOT TO ATTEND THIS IMPORTANT RALLY.

  11. tim rose
    Feb 28th 2012, 3:47 pm

    (The fact that I am the only comment for the past 5 days shows what a shambolic organisation this rally has).

  12. Social Investigations
    Mar 1st 2012, 4:59 pm

    This bill is all about privatisation from a coalition that is bankrolled by the City. They are from the City, they sit on the boards of businesses that will benefit from the bill. The evidence is here in this extraordinary list of Lords and MPs with financial interests in private healthcare companies – http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.com/2012/02/nhs-privatisation-compilation-of.html

  13. Jim Moores
    Mar 6th 2012, 10:56 pm

    Come on TUC and all the unions – why are we not all on the streets. The poll tax was nothing compared to the decimation of the NHS. Let’s get out there. Why is there nothing on the BBC? Where are the union leaders? Why are they not all over the papers; radio; TV? The Parliamentary Labour Party are all but gagged. Closet Tories – you should be defending the NHS at every opportunity.

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    Mar 27th 2012, 3:05 pm

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From the TUC