We Love the NHS

Nick Raynsford and Clive Efford at Queen Elizabeth Hospital

I was proud to attend two events in the last few days  to celebrate the NHS and stand up for it against the onslaught of the Tory-led Government’s Health and Social Care Bill.

On Saturday morning Labour held a street stall outside M&S on Old Dover Road,  getting messages of support for the campaign against the Bill. There was a slightly more formal event at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day), where the staff were presented with a Valentine’s card by local MPs Clive Efford and Nick Raynsford, and a big crowd of wellwishers, to show how much the NHS is valued by local people, as well as their MPs.

Labour’s Street Stall at Old Dover Road

A lot has been said about the Bill. My favourite comment of all is from a local GP, speaking at a public meeting at Mycenae House organised by the Labour Party last year. He said the reforms “combined the worst aspects of pre-revolutionary France, seventeenth century England and Stalinist Russia.” Which would be a very funny line in the Monty Python mould, were the very future of the NHS not at stake.

I don’t suppose he has changed his views since, given that more and more professional NHS bodies have weighed in against the “reforms” proposed, which looks increasingly like back-door privatisation.

The really telling thing is not the views of doctors or politicians, but patients. At the stall at Old Dover Road on Saturday people queued up to write their own messages about why they love the NHS, and wish to save it (you can read the messages at http://www.ilovethenhs.org.uk/sample-page/). The cuts are already biting: in Greenwich, the number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment has risen by a shocking 150% since May 2011.

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