I would like to congratulate Dr Carl Walker for his efforts in organising the public meeting, What’s happening to our NHS?, on March 13.
It must have been extremely difficult getting so many medical professionals and leading figures in the local NHS structures on to the platform on a Friday night to explain, from an insider’s point of view, why the NHS is struggling in the way that it is.
The audience heard of the obstacles that have been put there by the Government that have made the day-to-day functioning of the service so dysfunctional. The passing of the Health and Social Care Act has accelerated the rate of fragmentation through privatisation and tendering, and the role of the clinical commissioning groups in facilitating that fragmentation was highlighted by the attempted outsourcing of the MSK contract by Coastal West Sussex CCG.
The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham was singled out for substantial criticism from the audience, especially when it was pointed out that he had voted for the Health and Social Care Act and voted against the publication of the risk register, which would have demonstrated the impact of the tendering process nationally in the same way as the belatedly published impact assessment demonstrated how disruptive the contracting process was going to be to other services provided by Western Sussex NHS Hospital Trust.
The meeting was set up in order for local people to acquire a better understanding of the threat to the NHS. It was not designated as a hustings and no party political speeches were made from the top table.
So, it was all the more regrettable that the Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate for West Worthing chose to stand up and declare that only by voting Labour could the future of the NHS be assured.
And it was absolutely deplorable that UKIP’s Mike Glennon first attempted to make a political statement on behalf of his party and then when ruled out of order by the chair, tried to rubbish the leaflet put out in support of the NHS Reinstatement bill, specifically the clause supporting the right of every human being in this country to universal health care, a fundamental pillar of the NHS. Quite rightly, the audience booed him to the echo until he was compelled to wind up and take his seat.
The message that was coming out from the top table was loud and clear, the service is in a critical condition. And if we don’t continue to campaign against the Government’s damaging legislation, and campaign to remove them from office, and if we don’t fight for our NHS services, (like we fought over the MSK contract), then we will not have an NHS by the end of the decade; it’s as stark as that.
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