New Internationalist

The battle to save the NHS is not over!


Photo by Byzantine_K under a CC Licence.

I recently wrote a blog about the pending Health Bill which would effectively privatize the NHS. Well, the Bill was passed in Parliament and became law. This means the NHS has been abolished in all but name.

All the work and effort that went in to building it up, all the money that people have paid into it, all the ties of social solidarity that it has fostered have been squandered away in a right-wing ideological frenzy.

The campaign against the Bill – heroic as it was – failed. The campaign against the Act can’t afford to. Up to now the battle has been fought largely at the national level. The next phase will be about local action and new strategies for resistance will emerge as the Act becomes reality.

One thing is guaranteed: there will be chaos in the health service. This will not be one of those battles that fade into memory once the legislation is implemented; it will remain urgent and visible (there is already, effectively, a two-tier service).

Things were going to be bad in the health service anyway, with the NHS being required to make £20 billion of cuts. Combine this with a messy transition to a new system that hasn’t even been fully devised yet and the outcome will lead to many individual disasters.

As Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet medical magazine writes: ‘People will die thanks to the government’s decision to focus on competition rather than quality in healthcare.’

Those are the stakes.

So, turn off your TV, get out there and TOGETHER we can reverse this travesty. This is our chance, quite possibly our only chance, to salvage our publicly funded, publicly provided health service.

The Conservatives are dragging the country back into a pre-war ‘dark age’ where the sick, the disabled, the elderly and the unemployed are mistreated, neglected, discriminated against and otherwise left to rot. Not to mention channeling ever more wealth into the hands of the rich and scheming to deny everyone access to public, freely available and quality healthcare.

Aneurin Bevan said of the health service: ‘It will survive as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it’.

It’s now up to us.

For ways to join the campaign to save the NHS go to Keep Our NHS Public, Save NHS Direct and 38 Degrees.

With thanks to Alex Nunns.

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