Saving the #NHS4All is a walk in the park

There are many ways of campaigning to save the #NHS4All. For Chrissie Parker, a member of 999 Call for the NHS (Calderdale & Kirklees), it’s a walk in the park.

Here are Chrissie’s 10 top tips for Saving the NHS on Sunday Morning walks with the dog.

She put them into practice last Sunday in Huddersfield, donned with wellies, wind proof coat, dog treats, poo bags and accompanied by excitable terrier Zak.

There’s a lot of despair around about the fate of the NHS. People are saying there’s nothing they can do to stop its dismantling and destruction.

Be like Chrissie. Spread the word about #NHS4All. We have everything to win and a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step….So how about a walk in the park?

Chrissie’s 10 top tips

  1. Arm yourself with a few facts, walk around with other dog walkers and be polite! ,
    I often walk round with other dog owners while the dogs play. Last Sunday there were 4 of us with 7 dogs. We pass the time chit chatting.

2. Difficulties with seeing a GP.

A lady who always has an opinion on almost everything complained about having to wait for 2 weeks for a Dr’s appointment.

I politely said there are often on the-day appointments for urgent problems etc, although I often have to wait 4 or even 5 weeks for a non-urgent problem. Was she aware how many surgeries were having their budgets cut and even slashed? Mentioning Slaithwaite surgery, which has been under threat on more than one occasion of a 44% funding cut. They successfully fought that off but now they have had their rent increased to 9 times their original rent. I followed that with,

“Not sure how they will cope with that.”

3. Why charging to see a GP is rubbish

The lady said,

“Well all I can say is, it’s time they started to charge to see a doctor, £10 or something, like before the NHS when you had to pay for a doctor.”

My response was,

“Don’t you think Comprehensive Health Care should be available to everyone, not just to people who can afford to pay £10 to see the doctor, as not everyone can afford to pay?”

She felt £10 was reasonable and was still quite cross she had to wait 2 weeks for an appointment. But, had she considered that making people pay to see their GP risks some serious unintended consequences?

It would penalise the poor, the sick and the old – the most frequent users of the NHS and the people who need it most. People who most need to see a GP wouldn’t be able to, which would mean that any communicable diseases that afflict them would go unchecked and spread among the population. Then there would be an even greater pressure on GPs as more people who’d caught the communicable diseases would need appointments.

It would also be the thin end of the wedge. It would abolish the core NHS principle of access to treatment that’s free at the point of clinical need and once that’s gone, there’s nothing to stop charges extending further into the NHS.

[Link to #NHS4All leaflet on why charges to see a GP are rubbish – coming soon]

4. Private Finance Initiative and A&E closures

Someone asked if any one knew what they thought would happen with Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the proposal to knock it down, replace it with a small planned care clinic with an urgent care centre (that would not see children under 5) and send all acute and emergency patients to Halifax. Their view was it’s all the fault of the PFI debt on the Halifax hospital.

Very politely I turned in to an NHS bore. Explaining in my opinion it’s sod all to do with PFI, it’s Simon Stevens at NHS England or as I prefer to call them the NHS Destroyers. With their 5 Year Forward View they are reducing the NHS Budget by at least £22 Billion by 2020/1, compared with what it would have been if pre-2015 funding levels had been continued. £1 Billion of that is for West Yorkshire & Harrogate so even if there were no PFI I feel this would still happen. Several Local NHS campaign groups have sent in submissions to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel asking for a full public review of the proposal, not just a desk top review. Also I understood, that local MPs had done the same. I felt the idea is to get us all fed up of waiting so those who can pay will pay and go private.

5. Have you heard of ACO’s, I ask?

Accountable Care Organisations, this is for sure a vehicle for fast privatization. It’s no coincidence that Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, previously ran the massive UnitedHealth Group in USA. It sells health care products and insurance services and is the largest healthcare company in the world by revenue – $184 billion in 2016. About the same size as the NHS. The Coalition government brought Simon Stevens in to introduce the American business model of health care, which makes it very easy for any one of these American Companies that are all set to pounce, to break into the NHS. This is already happening in Greater Nottingham where the council and local NHS organisations have brought in the American company Centene to set up their Accountable Care System that will run pretty much the entire NHS and social care services in the area.

6. Tell them about local campaign groups, what they’re doing and how to get involved

There are several campaign groups in the local area.  999 Call For the NHS (Calderdale and Kirklees) is affiliated to the national 999 Call 4 the NHS which is bringing a Judicial Review in Leeds Court on April 24th, to challenge the lawfulness of NHS England’s Accountable Care Organisation contract , which they believe is unlawful under current NHS legislation. A group of doctors have a judge’s permission to bring a Judicial Review against the Department of Health and NHS England H over Accountable Care Organisations and are now crowdfunding to cover the costs.

7. Tell them again why it matters

It really will be the end of the NHS as we know it, the poorer in society will not be able to pay. And then after a time, as the co-payments wedge is driven further into the NHS, the rest won’t either.

“Do we really want to be in a situation where you have to sell your home or even declare bankruptcy to pay for health Care?” I asked.

“This does happen in America.”

Private health insurance doesn’t and won’t pay for the full costs of health care. The more complex and long term the illness, the greater the co- payments that patients have to cough up. Health care costs are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the USA and the state-funded Medicare and Medicaid schemes only provide a limited range of treatments. Even these are made available according to financial decisions, not patients’ clinical need.

8. “All these immigrants” are what keeps the NHS running

Then just I was fumbling for a Poo Bag, someone piped up,

“Its all these immigrants.”

Aghhhhhhh very calmly, my response was,

“No it is a minute fraction of the NHS Budget, and let’s face it without Non UK or even Non EU NHS Staff the NHS would really fall apart, we need to look at the bigger picture, and get rid of unelected Quangos, with their salaries that make your eyes run, and support our front line NHS Staff. Whatever country they come from”

There was mention of the lady from Nigeria who had quads and why did the NHS provide maternity services for her to do that.

“ Well” said I, “America refused her entry to the country as they knew she would not be able to pay. Yes she went into labour early at Heathrow. Would you turn away someone who needed help? I wouldn’t think so if that was someone from your family.”

(Link to #NHS4All leaflet on the facts about the NHS and immigrants, coming soon)

9. It’s time the opposition MPs and the Leader of the Opposition pulled their fingers out and got the NHS Reinstatement Bill through Parliament.

The only way to save the NHS is to bring it totally back in to public hands.  This is what most members of the public want, whatever political party they do or don’t vote for. The NHS doesn’t just need more money thrown at it, we need to trim off all the waste that goes on the internal market, competitive tendering to allow private companies to bid for and win contracts, and private consultancy companies being paid £ millions to tell NHS hospitals and commissioners how to turn themselves into Accountable Care Organisations.

10. Without nurses what would we do?

Then a gent who had said nothing at all said,

“My wife is a nurse, and she is totally demoralised.”

We then discussed the down banding of nurses etc, giving more roles for less money. Telling the gent, how much I appreciated everyone working in the NHS, without them what would we do.

Please send us your stories of saving the NHS by a walk in the park – or any other random public conversations about the NHS.

Chrissie wants #Justice4NHS


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