If it weren’t for the NHS, I would be dead. At seven years old, I was taken to hospital with meningitis. Within a few hours I was fighting for my life and in a coma for 2 days before responding to the drugs and spinal tap. I was one of the fortunate ones and survived without any of the known side affects such as deafness, blindness or amputation. I was left epileptic for the 10 years that followed though which meant I got pretty close to the NHS, its outpatient wards and teams of nurses and doctors asking after my welfare. I popped a handful of Epilem tablets every day for 6 years. I mastered the art of taking tablets without water and can still take paracetamol dry – some skill, heh.
As millions do, I literally owe my life to the NHS and its staff.
Our NHS is a matter of life and death.
Unison today is urging its members to demonstrate and march in London to show support for the NHS at the #OurNHS march organised by Health Campaigns Together. The NHS is under near collapsable levels of pressure across the country with the government refusing the money it was promised before the last election. Health inequalities are rising and services are being damaged by cuts and a lack of joined up provision.
The shortage of beds and beds being occupied for too long by patients without suitable social care provision unable to go home, means we’ve a toxic combination undermining the efforts of NHS staff. Staff are left exhausted and overlooked, undervalued with no rise in pay or conditions in years. All the while, pressure on services mount alongside an expectation to reduce inefficiencies. Walk in centres, designed to alleviate pressure on A&E and GP surgeries and a proven record of doing so, face closure.
And the plan instead? Phone a call-centre, which most likely sends you to A&E or refer you to your GP! The government is wilfully ignoring systems that work in preference to arbitrary cuts to local services via town hall and local commissioning group budgets responsible for this area.
We need an integrated health care system. A fair and more generous publicly funded health care system that restores a founding principle of cradle to grave in our health service. This has to start with a grown up conversation about looking after NHS staff and all those working to keep us well and make us better. Let’s agree how we fund a renewed NHS system. Maintaining the model of national insurance, agreeing that as a society we need to update the NHS with the changes to life expectancy and advances in medicine.
We should pay for it properly through progressive general taxation or we’ll pay for it, as I think the Tories hope, with the division and breaking up of our NHS into regional opportunities for large private providers. The government has failed to tackle this crisis. It is a blindspot for the Prime Minister and the charlatans in her cabinet who promised an additional £350 million a week say nothing on this since their campaign swindle.
Show your support for #OurNHS
The national demonstration will form up in Tavistock Square, London WC1 – nearest Tubes stations Russell Square or Euston – and march to Parliament. More info here: