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August 29, 2014 / politicsbitesize

People’s March for the NHS

NHS RallyAt around 6pm on Thursday 28th August the People’s March for the NHS arrived at the Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham. The large group that had marched from Mansfield received a warm welcome from the 200 or so people who had gathered to show their support for the Darlington Mums (#darlomums). This was the last leg of the 13th day of the march to support keeping the NHS in public hands.

In attendance at the rally were concerned citizens, doctors, nurses, members of Unison, the CWU and the local branch of The People’s Assembly, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Lilian Greenwood, the Labour MP for Nottingham South.   The main points made by all the speakers concerned the destructive power of the Health & Social Care Act and the rapid privatisation that the bill has sanctioned. Lilian Greenwood told the attendees that if the Labour Party win the next general election then they will repeal this damaging act and fight to keep the NHS public.

The Darlington Mums and members of Unison pointed out that harm is already being done in the form of the selling off of services such as transport, security, cleaning and catering. For example, the private health care company Circle have been selected to provide services at the Nottingham NHS Treatment Centre at the QMC. The services that the company offers to NHS patients include cancer treatment, pain management and cardiology.

All these provisions are bought in as external contracts and last year Circle posted a profit of £2m, which is £2m that is being drained from the NHS. The profits aren’t reinvested in hospitals, instead they are being taken from the NHS and placed into the pockets of hedge fund managers and stock holders. Furthermore, the services that these private companies are providing aren’t necessarily better than when they were solely supplied by the NHS. In fact, in some instances the NHS is left to re-treat patients when the private sector gets the treatment wrong.

The unfairness and injustice of the creeping wholesale sell-off of the NHS without the consent of the people was palpable throughout Thursday’s rally. A number of the speakers highlighted the plight of the doctors and nurses who are being blamed for a situation that they did not cause. Nurses are reporting that they don’t have enough time to treat their patients, either medically or in terms of providing the respect they deserve, and a number have been told that they will be working for private health companies rather than in the NHS roles that they originally signed up to. Privatisation has been edging into the NHS for years, but it is only now that the negative effects are being felt. The People’s March for the NHS (#March4NHS) is highlighting the devastation that is being and will continue to be caused if nothing is done to stop it. On September 6th the campaigners will reach their London destination where the final rally will take place in Trafalgar Square. Please help the marchers save the NHS by spreading the word about the march and join them if you can.

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