Don’t let our NHS wither on the vine

As the election approaches we will be heaping the pressure on the politicians not to let our NHS wither on the vine.

As the election approaches we will be heaping the pressure on the politicians not to let our NHS wither on the vine

Party conference season is well underway.

And this week it has been the Conservative party’s turn.

More austerity, benefit caps and whole range of core Conservative issues have been addressed but what about our NHS?

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron set out his stall, insisting he would protect the NHS budget. However when you take into account inflation, NHS funding will continue to fall as a percentage of GDP.

Labour leader Ed Miliband put the health service on the agenda last week with his NHS funding pledge, albeit not a big enough sum to plug the £2bn gap.

However following defections to UKIP, Brooks Newmark’s resignation and yet more bad news on wages, the NHS was again put on to the back burner until Monday.

At a special invitation only, Bupa funded event, titled: ‘Person-centred care: How to integrate health and social care,’ the NHS was the key topic of discussion.

Organised by the free-market think tank, the Social Media Foundation and attended by Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman – the event promised to give insight into the pressure being applied on the government to rapidly increase their NHS privatisation agenda.

Unfortunately, as freelance journalist Solomon Hughes found out, the organisers are not keen on publicity and barred him from attending, saying the event was ‘heavily oversubscribed’.

SMF director Nigel Keohane who addressed the event later has argued that charges for seeing GPs should be introduced along with an annual NHS subscription to plug the £2bn funding gap.

He has also suggested the government should go further and consider ‘revolutionary’ methods for the commissioning of services which opens the doors to further privatisation of our NHS.

These controversial suggestions fly in the face of public opinion, with the Mirror producing a poll showing public willingness to back a National Insurance rise to fund the NHS and keep it out of private hands.

These studies show that Miliband and other politicians can do much more in promoting alternatives to the current trajectory of privatisation and cuts.

WW2 RAF veteran Harry Smith gave the clearest insight into what we all face if the NHS is privatised as he recalled the days before the National Health Service and disease and poverty were rampant.

“It was a barbarous time,” he told Labour delegates before warning his past could be our future if we don’t halt the drive towards privatisation.

This is why Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) is a vital campaign to help mobilise mass public support to save our NHS.

KONP is the longest standing group committed to fighting privatisation and its principal objective to resist and reverse the privatisation and commercialisation of our National Health Service, by restoring it to full public ownership and control, and to promote its future development as a truly public service will certainly chime with the public.

Our position statement sets out a clear vision of how we can have a fully funded, publicly owned health service free from the clutches of private vultures,’ interested only in making a quick buck at our expense.

We are not just a lobbying group, and are prepared to support popular campaigns such as the recent Jarrow March for the NHS which saw thousands of people demonstrate their disgust at the way the current government treats our NHS.

As the general election approaches we will be heaping the pressure on the politicians, saying loud and clear that the people reject privatisation and won’t let our NHS wither on the vine.

John Millington is a freelance journalist and press officer for Keep Our NHS Public. He writes in a personal capacity

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