Our NHS saves lives – now we must fight for its life

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Keep Our NHS Public

Our NHS saves lives, it eases suffering and supports communities. Although cracks have appeared in the standard of care we receive,  most people are not yet prepared to give up on their NHS. Our events at the Gather community space in Eastbourne have made this clear to us as a campaign.  But people are becoming demoralised and frightened. We are suffering the greatest drop in living standards since 1977. More and more people are living with insecure employment, insecure housing and in England, one in eight are on NHS waiting lists. At the same time the dishonesty of our media and our politicians has led to widespread misunderstandings about what is really happenning and why.

Why we mustn’t allow ourselves to be controlled

We need a recovery in every sense of the word. We need economic recovery, a recovery in healthcare, employment rights, wages, equality and most of all hope.  Tony Benn  once said that: “There are two ways in which people are controlled. First of all frighten people and secondly demoralise them.”  People may be feeling utterly powerless, and certainly it can feel that Government is attempting to break us.  But whether we are demoralised and frightened or not we must fight back. We must not allow them to contol us.  Politicians need our votes and they need the co-operation of us all, particularly the workers. We should rejoice in every person taking industrial action and support them wholeheartedly. There are more of us than there are of them!

Support your NHS – it needs you

Our NHS also needs our support. Our local services in Sussex are governed by the Sussex Integrated Care Board. The proposed allocation for the ICB  in 2022/23 is just 8% greater than the allocations for all Sussex’s CCGs in 2015/16. Yet we know NHS inflation normally stands at 4% / year.

This year however inflation is far higher. Sally Gainsbury from the Nuffiled Trust has said that England’s NHS faces a real-terms budget cut of 3% this year. Liz Truss proposed NHS spending cuts of £5.5bn before she left office. Rishi Sunak has delayed the announcement of his proposals on how to repair the countries finances until November 17th. But he has said that each of the Government’s departments will need to find savings of 10-15%.

Our local services are threatened

In Sussex our Integrated Care Board has said: “We have a finite number of staff, facilities and public funding”. In other words when the pot of money is gone there is no more.

The Health and Care Act earlier this year was a major top down reorganisation of our NHS which broke up the service into 42 separate services across England. It also granted many more powers to The Secretary of State for Health which means there is a risk  that Whitehall can intervene to make more politically motivated decisions about our local services. The Act was sold to us as providing much sought-after integration of health and social care services. However all this means is that the ICB which controls NHS services will be in a partnership with local authorities and others. Nothing more is happening than a system whereby NHS commissioners will be talking to those in charge of social services.

But the finite number of staff does not mean that we will lose none. There are now 132,000 vacancies across the NHS and staff are suffering exhauastion, low morale and stress. In October this year it was reported that we had seen a 25% increase in staff vacancies in the last three months.  Our Home Office is threatening to deport 1000 foreign GPs despite taxpayers having spent £50K / year training them.  And NHS England had already lost 2000 Full Time Equivalent (FTE)  GPs since 2015. But when agency workers and locum doctors are used to fill vacancies it is vastly more expensive for our NHS.  The health unions have recently been balloting their members for industrial action.

You could be forgiven for thinking that our Government is hell-bent on breaking the country entirely.  Low wages, poor social care, poor education, attacks on healthcare, and escalating house prices will not lead to greater prosperity. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this. Investment in a public healthcare system will reduce the wastage of privatisation. Investment in decent wages and working conditions for NHS staff reduces the wastage of agency workers and locum doctors. Tackling the cost of living crisis will keep the public spending, be a boost to the economy and a boost to public health.

We must unite against this sustained attack on our human rights and the prosperity of the country.

Here are a few things you can do.

  • If you work, join a union
  • Support all workers who are taking industrial action
  • Sign our letter to the Sussex ICB by posting your name in the comment section of this blog post.  This letter calls for the Sussex ICB to declare any proposals for cuts etc to our local services.
  • Come to our event on NHS privatisation on 19 November at St Elisabeth’s Church in Eastbourne. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
  • If you can get to London on 5 November there is a People’s Assembly demonstration that needs to be well-supported. If you cannot get there why not attend any local events that are being organised? In Eastbourne on November 5th, as this is also a strike day for the rail workers – Eastbourne Trades Council have  decided to hold a protest in Eastbourne in support of the strikers. We will gather at 10am at the station and join the strikers on their picket line.  We will then march into town for a rally at Banker’s corner.
  • We are always looking for help running this campaign. There are many things that need doing so if you would like to help please get in touch.
  • Don’t give up hope, choose to fight back instead.

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