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March for the NHS

MARCH for NHSThe NHS is firmly on the Road to Privatisation.

The promise to protect the NHS and to halt any top down reorganisation lasted up until the point David Cameron became Prime Minister. Without any mandate David Cameron undertook the largest top down reorganisation since the foundation of the NHS, laying the framework for the whole scale marketisation of our health service.

A group of mums from Darlington concerned about the attacks on the NHS have decided to fight back, and wanting their voice to be heard are marching to Parliament following the famous path of the Jarrow Crusaders, who nearly 80 years previous marched against poverty and unemployment.

I was in Jarrow on Saturday to walk the first stage of the protest that will conclude on the 6 September in London after marching 300 miles and collecting information and evidence of the NHS break up from the 23 towns and cities they will visit on the way to Parliament.

They recognise that the NHS is currently in the process of being sold off piece by piece. The NHS Support Federation found that between April and December 2013 private firms won 70% of contracts for NHS services in England, covering everything from mental health services, out of hours services, and diagnostic services.

There are also plans in Staffordshire to privatise cancer care in what could be the biggest outsourcing deal in the NHS history, in a contract worth £1.2bn.

Prioritising private profits over patient care has hit frontline services. Access to GP services is becoming increasingly difficult, and deadly delays in ambulance response is risking lives. We have seen a near continuous A&E crisis, as patients with no alternatives present themselves at accident and emergency departments.

NHS England’s figures show that the number of people waiting more than 4 hours in A&Es has increased from a third of a million in 2009/2010 to almost a million after the Tories’ reorganisation.

However, despite these pressures frontline services have not been saved from cuts. One in ten A&E units have been closed or downgraded, including Hartlepool that serves part of the Easington constituency. Half of the 600 ambulance stations are earmarked for closure and one-third of NHS walk in centres have been closed.

East Durham has not been spared with GP services and walk in services under threat such as Healthworks in Easington, as well as those in Peterlee and Seaham, making it more likely patients will seek treatment from already over-stretched A&E units. In view of the high levels of deprivation and chronic local health problems we need more easily accessible healthcare services, not fewer.

The lines of responsibility and accountability have been blurred with the public unable to identify where decisions about local services are being made or how they can stop damaging cuts. The whole system is littered with conflicts of interest with GPs commissioning services from themselves with little accountability and elected representatives like myself denied access to meetings where commissioning decisions are discussed.

The present Government have created a system which has failed everyone except those seeking to profit from the NHS. There will be one final opportunity before the election to reverse these changes through a Private Members Bill I am co-sponsoring with Labour MP Clive Efford to repeal the damaging competition rules.

I will be delighted to welcome the NHS Jarrow march into Parliament, as we try to convince Conservative and Lib Dem MPs to end the chaos they have created in our health service by repealing the Health and Social Care Act.

Further information about the Peoples March for the NHS can be found here


  1. John Problem says:

    Our Prime Minister (aka President) and his pals seem to want us to end up with a shambolic – but profitable to some – mess like in the USA. Where 40% of personal bankruptcies are caused by health bills. And where you are charged for a pack of analgesics when you have only been given two….

  2. Robert says:

    It’s been coming for years New labour old Tories the choice is no choice at all.mind I doubt it.

    Vote for the party you think which will not end up mawking a mess of the NHS, vote for the loony party

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