In Defence of Our NHS – Protect Our NHS supporter, speech by Emily Downs to the Bristol March for NHS, 14th March 2015

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March 20, 2015 by Protect Our NHS

As a physiotherapy student there are three main reasons I chose to pursue this profession.
I wanted to help people.
I wanted to advocate for patients and to pioneer for the constant improvement of treatments and healthcare.
Most of all, I wanted to work for an institution that shared my values. At the time this institution was the NHS.
The values I speak of are those underpinned by Aneurin Bevan himself.
They are about an NHS that provides the highest quality of care that meets the needs of everyone, based on clinical need and not the ability to pay.
I joined the Protect Our NHS campaign group in Bristol because my fear is that these values are at great risk of being lost. That what we’re witnessing is the loss of one of our most successful and loved institutions – the NHS.
And the reason?
Because this government is slowly but surely (and at rising speed) fragmenting and selling-off our world-class health system with little or no discussion with us – the people who own, love, need and pay for this vital service.
Yes, society and needs have changed since Bevan’s time. And indeed the NHS is facing some of the greatest challenges in its history but these are not insurmountable.
They just require the right solution.
So who can provide those solutions?
Well … as the government is so often keen to point out, it is those on the frontline that know the systems and challenges we face the best
We’re there – seeing, up close and personal, the problems that exist. Governments need to hear what we think … and listen!
As healthcare professionals …
We know that with an ageing population and people living longer, we are now seeing many more patients with complex and multiple health conditions.
We know that management of these conditions requires the very best of efficient and joined up care … yet the government’s privatisation of key services has increased fragmentation and complicated communications.
We know that even the most routine of operation is going to require extra funding to maintain the safety of a patient with a complex condition …
… yet, instead of enabling equal distribution of funding, the government has allowed private companies to cherry-pick the least complex cases, siphon off the publicly-funded profit and continue to prosper with no obligation to pay it back.
We know that the solution lies in better community care and more support at home to keep people out of hospital.
We also know that to provide this service more investment is going to need to be made. 2% extra spending of GDP would bring us level in health expenditure with Germany and France for example …
… Yet instead of investing, the government seems set on losing public funds to the numerous black-holes of PFI contracts, tax loopholes and underperforming private contracts.
If privatisation is the solution then how was it that earlier this year that Circle, the first private company (and tax avoider) to take on the running of a hospital in a solution of this type, pulled out ending its 10 year contract just 3 years after taking it on?
Despite its private sector benefits, it could not even meet the basic quality standards required by the Care Quality Commission.
The bottom line was that it couldn’t cope with the cuts to funding and surge in patient numbers, factors that the NHS and its staff deal with on a daily basis.
This is a stark highlighting of the fantastic job that the NHS is doing to keep above water in such difficult times.
And with increasing public satisfaction at its second highest rate in 20 years, how in fact it needs supporting and protecting, rather than dismantling and selling.
Bristol Protect Our NHS is part of the national campaign to fight privatisation. We want our NHS money back from these private companies that take all that they can, but then scarper when the going gets tough.
We also want Care UK (another tax avoider) to return £7 million of NHS money it’s received for its Emersons Green contract for doing nothing.
We want more resources for the NHS, an NHS that battles on through the difficult times to provide care to those who need it when they need it … Not on the basis of whether they are complex or routine, but on the basis that they are an individual with the right to the best quality care whatever their background.
Bristol Protect Our NHS values the hard-work and dedication of those healthcare workers who are not motivated by profit, but who often work overtime without pay because they care.
Their reward is not financial but is in the knowledge that they are providing the best care they can.
And Protect Our NHS campaigners like myself are proud to welcome the People’s March for the NHS to Bristol.
And in passing, please come and enjoy yourselves at our next fundraiser at the Southbank Club on Friday 27th March, when the Mysterious Wheels, featuring Andrew Ranken from The Pogues, will be playing.
Now … in just over 50 days there is an election. And did you know that 800,000 young adults are unregistered?
If you haven’t, or know someone who hasn’t, registered, it is so important to do so. . . The deadline for this is 20 April.
People of my generation can also make a difference. The NHS is about our future.
We need to support those who hold the true values of high quality care for all above those who seek to profit from the ill-health of others.
What I cannot do is tell you who to vote for … as I am unsure myself!
What I can say I’m looking for in the next government, and what I will continue to campaign and fight for, no matter who ends up in power, is this:
I want a government that will recognise the amazing quality work currently being done by NHS staff in primary and secondary care, and does not assume we are too ignorant to be consulted, and listened to, on decisions about changes in health care provision. We are the most valuable resource in making theses changes relevant and effective.
I want a government that will offer the NHS the support and resources it requires to develop and adapt to the needs of the 21st Century.
I want a government that stops passing the buck to whichever company or corporate executive offers the most financial backing.
I want a government that recognises that the NHS doesn’t belong to the politicians, to the corporations, to hedge funds, to tax avoiders and other vested interests
I want a government that recognises that it is our, the People’s, NHS
The NHS is yours. So, on May 7th Vote for the NHS.

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“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Noam Chomsky

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