Death of the NHS?

Saturday 17 2012 marked the day when a funeral procession made its way through the centre of Cardiff. Unfortunately it was also the day that Wales played France for the Grand Slam so the protest was somewhat enveloped by the most French people I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been to France!

Phototgraph: Lucy Chip

That said, it does not mean that the protest went unnoticed or should have any less press time. It is too easy to walk past and block the placards from your mind on a normal day. Often this is due to the fact that they say “Socialist Party” at the top. There seem to be many misconceptions among people’s opinions of this party. Even I have been known to simply ignore them because they are sometimes too anti-government for my tastes.

The fact of the matter, however, is that these are the people who stand up for real change. Not the empty change that politicians try to implement. They are the people who simply notice what is actually happening.

The protest, therefore, needs to be taken notice of. It seems to me that, although the propaganda grates with me, that they are right on the mark. There are too many professionals working in the NHS who oppose the new bill for opposition to be ignored.

The protest was designed to be a spectacle, and it certainly was. Before the coffin was taken through the high street, there were a couple of speeches outlining the apparent inequality in the bill. I cannot say whether or not it was falling on deaf ears but it certainly deserved to be listened to.

The one troubling thing is whether the bill has come to a point where it will not be accepted simply on principle. After all, it has undergone, what appears to be, major changes since it was first conceived.

I put this to David Hamlin, a Socialist Coalition council election candidate, and he said that in “all likelihood [we wouldn’t accept a revamped bill]. A bill with this level of hypocrisy (as has been observed, it promises efficiency by removing 2 levels of bureaucracy but then imposes 4) and a calculated desire to erode the very foundations of the NHS cannot in good conscience be supported.”

It seems that when trust has eroded so far it becomes about initiating the need for what so many have deemed ‘real change’. And why not? The government need to prove to us that the NHS is safe and the current plans do not seem to suggest this. Public perception is just as important as the bill being proved to work.

[pullquote]No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.

Aneurin Bevan[/pullquote]

We need reassurance, which is something, I fear, most people do not have. Mr Hamblin continued by saying he would be open to NHS reform with a bill “which resolves to remove the costly and unnecessary PFI and replacing it with real investment, a bill which removes the large number of privately contracted consultative managers, a bill which asserts that the public health service will be truly that instead of parcelled out to ‘Any willing [private] provider’.”

I refuse to believe that the government is a malign force out to privatise the NHS and I do not think they are ‘the same old Tories’. The fact that the lib-dems are hanging in the background needs to count for something. But I do think that this needs to be an example of little student action. I commend all those at the protest on Saturday but it baffles me why more students were not there.

The Socialists might not be your cup of teabut it’s not about them. It is about helping people stand up for what you believe in. Mr Hamblin ended with: “If someone is bleeding at the side of the road you go over and help them, you give whatever medical aid is required. You don’t wait to see if their insurance details check out and you certainly don’t put out the task to private tender. We live in the nation that founded the NHS. The only difference is that we see that the road’s bigger; the Socialist reaction is the same. We believe in a national health system in the hands of the public giving free at the point of use healthcare to all.”

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  • I agree with David, this bill and others like it will be in the interest of private profit not improved healthcare services for us. We cannot sit back and watch our NHS be sold off bit by bit! The Socialist Party are one of few organising to save the NHS and deserve our support, not just in this campaign but in their bid to win seats as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidates. I don’t trust Labour with the NHS either, it should be in the hands of the people who use it, and that’s every single TUSC candidate standing.