Celebrities slam privatisation as campaign calls on election candidates to protect NHS

"The spirit and the idea of the health service is important and alive today as it ever was, unless we allow it to be run into the ground. So let's fight for it."

A celebrity-backed NHS campaign has gained traction online after actor Stephen Fry led the call to make political candidates pledge for better NHS funding in the election run-up. 

In a TikTok video posted by campaign group We Own It, the former QI host slammed NHS privatisation while praising the treatment he recently received as he became the latest celebrity to back the Pledge for the NHS

Commenting on the worst 14 years of underfunding, understaffing and outsourcing in the NHS’s history, Fry opened up about his hospitalisation last year and warned of the need to protect the institution. 

“There are plenty of enormous corporations in America who are dribbling at the idea of moving in and taking over our health service,” said Fry.

“It doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to wonder why this health service is being so consistently underinvested in.”

He referred to the NHS as “one of the great ornaments of British institutions” but warned that “desperate” underfunding has seen its reputation lag behind other countries.

Funding for the NHS is £40 billion less per year than in France, whilst the same study by the Health Foundation found Germany spends £73 billion more on healthcare than Britain. 

Recounting his time in hospital after an accident last September, Fry said his experience was “fantastic” despite the challenges faced. 

“I was taken by ambulance to the nearest NHS hospital which is not regarded as one of the great ones,” said Fry.  

“It was fantastic. The people were just incredible.

“Yes, some of the paint was peeling on the walls. Yes, it could do with some infrastructure, love and probably, you know, better hours for those junior doctors and nurses and other support staff.

“Yes, the waits are longer than they should be. But the spirit and the idea of the health service is important and alive today as it ever was unless we allow it to be run into the ground. So let’s fight for it.”

The TikTok video has been liked over 8,400 times and Stephen Fry ended by urging viewers to support the campaign and send the We Own It letter to parliamentary figures. 

He joins other celebrities including Frankie Boyle, Doc Brown, Rosie Holt and Ken Loach who have expressed their support for the new campaign calling on political candidates to commit to protect and improve the NHS. 

Candidates who take the pledge commit to: 

Reinstating the Health Secretary’s legal duty to provide healthcare to all

Give the NHS £40 billion more per year

Bring outsourced services back into the NHS as their contracts end

Lead campaigner at We Own It, Johnbosco Nwogbo, said the campaign hopes to mobilise tens of thousands of people to send a clear message that people will be voting for politicians who pledge to support the NHS.

Nwogbo said: “The NHS is a key election issue. Right now we have a short window of opportunity to shape election manifestos and show political candidates that ending privatisation and protecting our NHS as a fully public service is a priority for voters.

“Politicians don’t always do what they promise, but they hardly ever do good things that they didn’t promise. That’s why we must push for bold commitments to end wasteful outsourcing, fund our NHS in line with the rest of Europe, and protect it for future generations.”

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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