Are We Letting The NHS Fail to Justify Privatising It?

As local junior doctors prepare to join their colleagues across the country for next week’s strike action, Dr V. Wagner is raising awareness of the government’s ongoing attack on our health service – collating the Portsmouth NHS Storybook and organising a screening of Sell Off, a documentary about the privatisation of the NHS.

On 26th and 27th April, from 8am – 5pm, junior doctors in Portsmouth will join colleagues across the country in undertaking a full walk out, with senior doctors providing cover. The strike marks the latest in a series of actions protesting Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s controversial plan to ‘impose a new contract’ on junior doctors, which would see some junior doctors paid less than they are currently, increased working hours and the removal of existing safeguards preventing doctors working unsafe hours.

Two legal challenges to the imposition of the new contracts have been mounted against the Health Secretary, by the British Medical Association (BMA) and campaign group Just Health. Last week, Jeremy Hunt issued a public statement refusing the BMA’s offer to cancel next week’s strike if the Health Secretary would revisit his decision to impose the new contract.

As part of a local campaign to fight the new contract and the ongoing  reform of the NHS, Dr Wagner and others have been gathering accounts from local residents for the Portsmouth NHS Storybook, which highlights the hard-working staff of the National Health Service and the important role it plays in the lives of people, often at the most vulnerable points in their lives.

Dr Wagner said, “I realised that many people, especially the older generation but also those struggling to operate computers, did not use social media. Their voices might not be heard, and their thoughts about our NHS might get drowned out by the barrage of NHS scare stories in the mainstream media.

“So I decided to create a local voice on the NHS for people not on social media, the Great NHS Storybook Portsmouth. The Storybook is for everyone whose life is in any way connected with the NHS. It is an ongoing project to raise awareness about the unique place the NHS occupies in the nation’s hearts.”

We’ve collected a few of these stories below and we’ll be sharing more each day over at our Facebook page from next week.

I am so lucky to live in a country that has a Wonderful National Health Service. I am totally reliant on them for my ongoing health conditions. I was diagnosed HIV positive back in 2002- the NHS saved me then and continues to save me. If I lived in the USA or anywhere else, I would probably have died as I couldn’t afford the medication.
Thank you so much NHS – we will support you.

I was born in an NHS hospital, both my children were born in NHS facilities. My father has had cancer treatment, my grandfather has had cancer treatment. My brother has had heart surgery, my father- in – law has had a quadruple by-pass. Right now today {on a Sunday} my friend is having surgery; the list goes on and on. We would be lost without this amazing service.

Michelle Lincoln: I love the NHS! It has saved my life more than once so to me it is very, very important that the NHS continues to exist. Its staff work tirelessly for others under a cloud of animosity from this government. The NHS has also helped my son and other relations when needed. The NHS must continue to exist, free to all as it was originally envisioned.

The NHS should be with us from cradle to grave. Without the NHS the poor will suffer and will not receive the healthcare they need. The NHS is an essential part of this country and must not be destroyed!

The NHS still needs to stand as one of the best healthcare systems in the world. I think we often take for granted the privilege of free health treatment and how fortunate we are. Let’s keep it ours!

Next week, Dr Wagner has organised a screening of an independent documentary about the privatisation of the NHS, Sell-off, which aims to “expose the two decade covert privatisation [of the NHS] which has occurred without public mandate and against the public interest.”

The documentary includes an examination of:

  • the Tory government’s decision to hire corporate lawyers to assist with the writing of the Health & Social Care Act
  • the closures of A&E
  • the use of Private Finance Initiatives, such as the PFI contract to build QA Hospital
  • Foundation Trusts
  • the role of the media in failing to challenge creeping privatisation

You can see Sell-off next week on 27th April at 6.30 at the Hub in Somerstown or if you can’t make it because you’re coming to our birthday showcase  event at the Eldon Building, you can watch it online.

Photography by Sarah Sheldrake, with thanks to Wear Your NHS, a national campaign in solidarity with junior doctors.