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About our campaign

Our campaign is uniting people across East Sussex who care about our NHS.  We are bringing people together, regardless of their political persuasion, who want to fight for our NHS.   It is affiliated to both  Health Campaigns Together and Keep Our NHS Public.  We do not align ourselves to any political party.

Our campaign currently has a branch in Hastings, Eastbourne, and Wealden.  It is vital that we unite across East Sussex as in the past campaigns in Hastings and Eastbourne have worked against each other.  The Conquest and DGH faced losing core services some years ago.  Separate campaigns in Eastbourne and Hastings fought over which hospital would lose a service. Now, we will unite to say no to either hospital losing services.

Across East Sussex we have the same commissioning body, our hospitals are run by the same NHS trusts and we all rely on the same County Council to scrutinise our local services.  What happens in one area will affect surrounding areas.  This campaign’s message is that everybody must have access to core services in their locality.

We know  when trusts merge services they are simply cutting the service in one hospital.  Services that remain do not get larger. But they may have to care for twice as many people.

Some background on why we exist

Statue of Nye Bevan
Statue of Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS, on Queen Street, Cardiff

Before the NHS if people had no health insurance from their workplace they had to rely on charity for their healthcare.  In 1948 many people were unhealthy.  Many suffered from diseases for which they had never been offered treatment. Life expectancy and infant mortality were both low.  The government of 1948 understood that they must provide health and social care for all people.  They created our NHS.  Decent housing replaced slums and doctor’s opened surgeries in every area. Hospitals offered treatment that was free at the point of need. Our country started to rebuild and the economy began to grow.

The NHS provided people with healthcare free at the point of need and funded by taxation.  The NHS in 1948 was the most efficient system for delivering healthcare to the nation.  It was also the most equitable.  Our NHS sees nobody as more worthy of treatment than anyone else.  The system also shares the financial burden of ill health across the entire nation.  Since the birth of the NHS life expectancy and infant mortality have been increasing until very recently.  Nations across the world admired our NHS.

Nye Bevan, Secretary of State for Health, said: “The NHS will last as long as there are enough folk left with the faith to fight for it.” He knew the future of our NHS was not secure and  foresaw future governments attacking the system.  The survival of the NHS relies upon ordinary people fighting for it.  Successive Governments since 1948 have broken the fiundamental system that made our NHS the most efficient and equitable means of delivering healthcare.

Time and time again governments have introduced changes that further the interests of the private sector.  The only people that benefit are those in big business.  We care about the people, not the businesses.  We believe our NHS must prioritise healing the sick rather than providing profit.  People matter far more than profit.

Our NHS today

Covid 19 has increased our awareness and interest in what is happening in our hospitals.  The desperate circumstances reported today are not an inevitable consequence of an unexpected pandemic.  Our Government had plenty of warning that a killer virus pandemic was a possible and even likely threat but they failed to prepare.

Our NHS entered this pandemic after years of underfunding,  cuts in staffing and wage restraints.  We had 50% fewer beds in our hospitals than we had 30 years ago.   Privatisation and outsourcing particularly since 2012 has served to increase inefficiency and waste huge amounts of capital.  Cracks have appeared in the NHS in recent years.  Our  Government is failing the NHS. But, we still have an amazing healthcare system, the service is not failing. This is thanks to the amazing people who work within the NHS.  Unless we act now to reverse Westminster’s attacks the cracks will get bigger.

Our NHS is in crisis.  Successive governments have all damaged the service. Our NHS today bears little resemblance to the NHS in 2012.  Nicholas Ridley published a plan in 1977 describing how nationalised industries could be privatised.  The destruction of our NHS has followed a path laid out in this plan.

We will continue to campaign, to raise awareness and to inspire others to join our campaign.  This is a fight that may turn out to be literally a fight for our lives.

The Right to Healthcare is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This campaign group will aim to spread awareness of the damaging politics behind this crisis, and unite people to send a clear message to our politicians that we expect something better.  This is about fighting for our rights and the rights of our friends and families.

There is a book, called Body and Soul, of poems collected to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS.  I really can strongly recommend getting hold of a copy and having a read.  This book is an absolute delight for anyone who loves our NHS.