Celebrities join forces in call for end to NHS privatisation

They're launching a new campaign called 'Only the NHS'

A photo of Stephen Fry, Joe Lycett, Emma Thompson and Billy Bragg

A group of actors, musicians, comedians and celebrities have come together in a new campaign seeking to secure proper funding for the NHS and an end to privatisation. The coalition of public figures, which includes Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Joe Lycett, have signed an open letter calling on the health spokespeople of all major parties to commit to “funding our NHS properly and making it work for patients, not profit.”

The open letter is part of a campaign being launched by public ownership campaign group We Own It ahead of the next general election called Only the NHS.

In their letter, the group argues that only the NHS “takes care of patients at A&E”, “trains our doctors and nurses, and “looks after all patients”. It also argues vast sums of public money were “wasted” in private contracts during the pandemic.

The group go on to call on all political parties to commit to three key policies they argue will avert the crisis in the NHS and prevent a move to a costly US-style model of healthcare: investing in NHS capacity; stopping outsourcing contracts to private companies; and restoring the NHS in line with its founding principles by reinstating the government’s duty to provide care for everyone in the UK.

Other signatories to the open letter include the actors Siobhán McSweeney and Jon Pointing, musician Billy Bragg, comedians Rosie Holt, Jessica Fostekew and Lee Ridley, filmmaker Ken Loach, broadcaster Marina Purkiss, authors Michael Rosen and Lemn Sissay, and celebrity photographer Rankin.

Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Jess Fostekew said “I don’t want to live in yet another country where you have to be minted in order to get help when you are ill.

“If we don’t act fast, the NHS is going to be history. I believe it’s time for a national effort to reinstate the NHS as the health service it was created to be.”

Coinciding with the campaign launch, We Own It has released new polling conducted by Survation showing that 65% of people believe the NHS should be reinstated as a fully public service.

Johnbosco Nwogbo, Lead Campaigner at We Own It, said “When you call 999 with a medical emergency, who responds? It’s the NHS. Only the NHS provides A&E. Only the NHS trains up our doctors and nurses – the private sector will nab them once they’re trained. Only the NHS deals with complex cases and takes care of you whatever is wrong – private companies cherry pick the simplest cases to make money.

“Every penny that gets wasted on private sector disasters like Test and Trace is a penny not invested in our NHS. Privatisation has failed – outsourcing leads to more deaths, and mortality is higher with the US model. So our message for the minister Steve Barclay, the shadow minister Wes Streeting and all the health spokespeople is that Only the NHS can solve this crisis. Please fund it properly and make it work for patients not profit.”

Only the NHS will see a range of actions taking place in towns and cities across Britain to mark the 75th birthday of the NHS on July 5.

The Only the NHS campaign is also backed by campaign groups and trade unions including Unite, Doctors for the NHS, Socialist Health Association, NHS Workers Say No, MedAct, the National Pensioners’ Convention and Your NHS Needs You.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Tablet Eraser, Raph_PH, Elena Ternovaja, Mario Pires – all Creative Commons

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