On Friday 12 February 2016 a meeting jointly organised by Defend Our NHS York and York People’s Assembly entitled “NHS Privatisation – this is the Big one!” was held at the Priory Street Centre in York. The speakers were introduced to the full house of over a hundred people by DoNHSY’s own Anne Leonard.
The Member of Parliament for York Central Rachael Maskell MP spoke of NHS miracles happening every minute, of every hour, of every day and year and produced with statistics that confirmed this, including it being the fourth largest employer in the world. Her mention of the Junior Doctors contact dispute brought a round of applause from the audience. She also spoke of economic inequality leading to health inequality and the need to take back control of the NHS, along with other public services, into public hands to provide a good life for everyone.
Professor David Hunter supporting what Rachael had stated and gave some history of the current state of the NHS following years of Neoliberal policies being applied to it, from the 1989 ‘internal market’ to the marketisation under New Labour and the Lansley reforms under the previous Coalition government. He stated that it does not have to be like this and that “there is always another way”. He proposed that there are too few people involved in politics and every one of us needs to get involved to reclaim the NHS and public service.
Dr Clive Peedell, leader of the National Health Action Party (NHAP), a consultant oncologist in Teesside, stood against David Cameron in the 2015 general Election to raise the profile of the NHS and what was being done to it. Clive spoke strongly about the damage done from from 1983 onwards when the financial markets were deregulated developing a “race to the bottom” for those nations who took part and the move from 45% of GDP being spent on public services to 35% resulting in the massive loss of money from that sector to the multinationals. He also pointed out the use of PFI by New Labour that was costing the NHS billions, and that this and similar measures had prevented them strongly opposing Lansley’s 2012 Act that had wrought havoc. He also highlighted the massive contradictions in government policy that was creating confusion and waste in the NHS. He emphasised that what was being done to the NHS was a political choice and the public needed to work together with the health professions to counteract it.
Following the three talks the floor was opened for questions and comments. An enthuse audience heard feedback from GP’s, junior doctors, student nurses and mental health professional health professionals, all concerned as to what could be done to reverse the government actions. The conclusion to this audience member was quite clear – “It’s OUR NHS – Don’t mourn, get out there and organise”