No time to waste – six months to save our NHS

If the NHS continues down the road of privatisation, it will cease to exist as we know it.

If the NHS continues down the road of privatisation, it will cease to exist as we know it

Today is an opportunity for all of us to fight for one of Britain’s greatest achievements – our National Health Service.

Loved by most and used by the overwhelming majority of the public, our NHS is now under threat and we must fight to protect it.

When the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was passed, our NHS was put up for sale and has been subjected to creeping privatisation ever since.

Labour MP Clive Efford has put forward a Private Members Bill to Parliament which aims to reduce procurement and tendering procedures that provide a gateway to the private corporations to buy into our NHS and also sees millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers.

Receiving its second reading in Parliament next week on 21 November, the #BackTheBill campaign will take its message to the streets today.

Backed by the TUC and several affiliated trade unions, campaigners will be telling the public tomorrow to put pressure on their MPs to vote for the bill.

Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) members believe that although the Efford Bill is not completely satisfactory in its present form in meeting all of KONP’s demands for the NHS, it is worth campaigning for because it raises the public’s awareness of NHS privatisation.

One of KONP’s founders, Professor Allyson Pollock, and colleagues Peter Roderick and David Price have produced a ‘NHS Reinstatement Bill’ which details the legal steps required to fully restore the NHS in England and reverse the failings of the H&SC Act.

KONP along with other NHS campaigning groups fully support Professor Pollock’s Bill.

Professor Pollock has voiced concerns that Efford’s Bill needs to go further and still requires some clarification in parts.

However, crucially she states the Efford Bill is a ‘step in the right direction’.

This bill is keeping the NHS at the top of the political agenda and the vote next Friday will force MPs from all parties to acknowledge that the people demand an end to any privatisation of our NHS and that we want it fully restored to public ownership.

KONP have been working hard since its founding in 2005 to protect the NHS from privatisation, but the next six months run up to the general election will be a crucial time.

We must utilise all campaigning opportunities to inform people about the very real threat our NHS is under, but above all we must be united in our common cause. Next Thursday there will be an all night vigil on Parliament Square in support of the Bill, and activities on the Friday whilst the Bill is being debated in Parliament.

Aneurin Bevan, minister for health when the NHS was founded in 1945, once said the NHS ‘will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it’.

If the NHS continues down the road of privatisation, it will cease to exist as we know it.

Putting profit before people compromises the quality of our health care and is the wrong ethos to have at the heart of our nation’s health system.  The people demand a publicly funded, publicly provided, publicly accountable and comprehensive  NHS.

Sakina Sheikh is an administrative and fundraising assistant at KONP. She writes in a personal capacity

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