The Red Cross’s statement on 7 January that there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS was headline news but sadly came as no surprise to those of us who work in the NHS or have been actively campaigning on the issues for the past few years. We warned repeatedly of the “perfect storm” that would hit the NHS produced by the combined effects of year on year under
funding, undermining of NHS staff, and the chaos and waste of privatisation. But our warnings fell on deaf ears. Jeremy Hunt likes to pose as the patient’s champion but he has gone quiet now that he is faced with incontrovertible evidence that patients are suffering and dying because of his government’s deliberate policies.
That is why our demonstration on 4th March is so important. It comes at a time of profound crisis in the NHS but also points to how it can be defended. It can only be defended by people coming together powerfully to fight for it. The demonstration’s demands are an end to cuts. closures and privatisation and an end to the pay freeze for NHS staff. The positive demand of the demonstration is for a fully funded, publicly provided NHS and social care service. Support for the demonstration is growing rapidly. The aim is to bring together all those who want to defend the NHS from members of the public, to NHS staff and unions, to national and local campaigning organisations and groups, in a powerful show of strength, unity and determination.
We hope the demonstration will give a focus for local groups to get out on the streets to engage with the public about what is happening to the NHS and the vital importance of joining the movement to defend it now. It will also help build alliances so our campaigning can be even more effective. It will give a powerful message to the government that people will no longer accept their destruction of the NHS. And we hope the legacy of the demonstration will be a strong collaborative movement going forward in defence of the NHS. We don’t have time to wait for a possible change of government in 2020. The NHS could be unrecognisable in 2020 and it will be very hard to repair the damage. We need to fight to save it now! The 4 March demonstration is part of that fightback!