Join the #OurNHS Demo to Protect our Health Service
The NHS performs daily miracles. As a service it ranks first out of international comparators due to its quality of care, efficiency, and low cost at the point of service. However in the international rankings of percentage of Gross Domestic Product spent on healthcare, we sit neatly between Ecuador and Nicaragua. We spend a lower portion of our wealth on health care than the EU average, let alone compared to leading nations such as Sweden and Germany.
When faced with any criticism of the NHS, the government shoots off statistics about record funding levels. The reality is that the funding simply isn’t good enough. If the government was giving the health service enough funding, then why have four out of five hospitals been found to not be sufficiently safe? Why has the NHS deficit risen to £2.45bn, the largest ever? Why is the number of accident and emergency patients seen within four hours dropping? The worrying headlines have no end.
The problems go far beyond the hospitals. Local authorities, the providers of social care, have faced an austerity driven £5bn funding care gap over the past four years. This has created huge bottlenecks and knock-on effects for the NHS as the elderly are more likely to end up in hospital and doctors are unable to release patients. The delays for patients waiting for care have doubled over the past year, using huge quantities of resources in the meantime.
Meanwhile, the government funnels money into private companies. This means money spent on management consultancies instead of hospital beds and nurses. It also makes long term planning far more difficult as the NHS is no longer the sole provider of healthcare. The change has been staggering, revenues generated by private or independent sector providers in the health and care market grew by 5% in 2015 to reach £45.3bn. If this continues we could easily see a point where the NHS is no longer our main health provider.
On Saturday 4th March, people will be marching to protect our NHS, to call for an end to privatisation, for a properly funded service, and for fair pay for staff. The national demonstration has gathered the support of a coalition of trade unions, health activists, and people from all walks of life. It is vital that the government hears these concerns loud and clear, so if you care about the NHS, come along!