‘We Won’t Let Go’: Why I Joined the National Health Singers

Photo credit: National Health Singers

The National Health Singers released a protest song about cuts to the NHS this week as the Service celebrates its birthday today, 5th July 2018. Dr Katy McDowall, an NHS Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar who is originally from Portsmouth, shares why she got involved. Sarah Cheverton reports.

Since 2010, the NHS has faced cuts of £40 billion. Part of this came from the ‘Nicholson challenge’, which called for the NHS to find efficiency savings of £15-20 billion between 2011 and 2014. In 2016, a report by the British Medical Association (BMA) found regional plans for re-organising the NHS – known as Sustainability and Transformation Plans, or STPs – will have to deliver an additional £22 billion in cuts by 2020/2021.

In 2014, NHS England’s Five Year Forward View estimated the National Health Service would face a funding gap of £30 billion a year by 2020/21 because of the mismatch between available resources and rising patient needs.

In an open letter to Theresa May in June 2018, 100 senior NHS doctors and nurses rejected the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of a funding boost to the NHS. In the open letter, NHS staff wrote:

There must be investment in public health and prevention instead of cuts. We want an end to the shame of having some of the worst child death rates in Europe.

We desperately need serious workforce planning not the shambolic situation we’ve had for years leaving us with 100,000 vacancies.

This and much more is what we want for our NHS. More importantly, it’s what our patients need.

With an offer that falls short of what is needed this Government has shown once again that it can’t be trusted to care for the NHS.

Into this landscape step the National Health Singers, a choir of NHS and healthcare staff and patients, who say they are ‘fighting to save the NHS’, and include doctors from across Hampshire.

We sing to boost morale, to raise awareness of a service with difficulties and, ultimately, to celebrate our NHS.

On 1st July 2018, the National Health Singers released ‘Won’t Let Go’, a single that aims to celebrate and defend the National Health Service. You can watch the video below.

The song was created with Mark De-Lisser (whose credits include ITV’s The Voice, the BBC’s Pitch Battle and The Choir, and the arrangement of Stand By Me at the Royal Wedding), songwriter Clare Dove and producer Samuel Cramer. The music video was created by William Walsh, with cover artwork by Dr Victoria Watson.

Dr Katy McDowall, an NHS Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar, whose family live in the Portsmouth area, told S&C:

I got involved with the National Health Singers because I wanted to be part of some movement (any movement) that would get our message across in a positive way. It makes such a difference to join together with other people who feel as I do.

I have been an NHS worker for many years and am so proud to be so. We are all so committed to the principles of the best possible care open equally to all, but feel that this is being eroded and that pretty soon our best efforts will not be enough to provide this.

I know this to be true both in the East Midlands where I work and raise my children, and in the Portsmouth area where my mother, stepfather and many cousins still live and rely on the NHS, especially recently. I want to send huge love and thanks to all health workers in the Portsmouth and Southampton areas who work so hard for them.

We have to decide nationally to recommit to the NHS.

Joining the Won’t Let Go movement and the choir was an opportunity to make a noise in a way that would get noticed and appeal to people. From this movement has come a love song to the NHS – but like all love songs it contains a cry of anguish.

Will we in the UK decide to continue to back the NHS and the principle of equal access to the best healthcare for all?

If so – let’s all join together and, to paraphrase the song, keep it ours.

For more information, head over to the website and follow the National Health Singers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Download the song on Amazon, Spotify and GooglePlay.

You can also get involved in their campaign by following the hashtags: #NHSwontletgo and #NHSbigblueheart.

Photo credit National Health Singers

Photography by National Health Singers.

This article was updated on 5th July 2018 and the download links for Won’t Let Go were added.

This story is part of our ongoing series from our #ReclaimTheNews team, a group of local residents trained in investigative journalism in partnership with The Centre for Investigative Journalism. The group now forms S&C’s Community Reporting team. Expect more stories from them in the coming weeks and help spread the word by sharing their articles with your friends and networks – just click on the social media buttons below.