Across Lancashire, members of the public angered by the Health and Care Bill have been queuing up to share their demands that their MPs vote against the Health and Care Bill at its next stage in Parliament, and stop the dismantling of the NHS into 42 cost-cutting Integrated Care Systems.
After the 11 Lancs Tory MPs voted the Health & Care Bill through on its second reading in mid July, Unite Community Lancashire branch initiated a collective campaign with Lancs NHS campaign groups to lobby all 11 MPs to vote against the Bill at its next stage, and oppose Integrated Care Systems based on the USA’s Medicare/Medicaid insurance system, that provides limited health care for people who are to poor or old to afford private health care.
The campaign has now delivered to each of the MPs a lovingly hand-embroidered handkerchief with the message:
There are compelling reasons for this call:
- The Bill really will kill some of us – it reduces the government’s obligations to secure NHS care for us all; and it will worsen the current NHS staff shortage, by deregulating clinical professions and continuing the moral injury to NHS staff that has occurred during the pandemic.
- It is a Bill for big business – putting big business at the heart of NHS decision-making and the delivery of services.
- It will do nothing to solve the NHS’s problems.
Angry public couldn’t sign the Kill the Health and Care Bill petition fast enough
In some constituencies, Don’t Blow It! campaigners held stalls near the MP’s office to speak to local voters.
They were heartened by the extent of public awareness of the dismantling of the NHS: people knew they were being denied care, they knew it has been made so difficult to get appointments, referrals, tests, scans and that they or their friends and family are suffering as a result. Those who worked in the NHS knew they were being taken for granted, underpaid, exhausted, expected to do more for less, their lives being put at risk throughout the pandemic. They understood that remodelling the NHS on the American system is a terrifying prospect for us all.
No one admires the US system so why would a 21st Century country import that profit-driven system in place of a comprehensive National Health Service for everyone with a clinical need for it? That US system which incentivises cuts. Which is a bare minimum “service”. Which is bureaucratic, inefficient and yet massively more expensive to run and which encourages denial of care and consequently has pain suffering and death built in.
NHS campaigner Mary Whitby said,
“The public were angry and they couldn’t sign our petition quick enough. We often had queues of socially distanced people waiting for their opportunity to sign the petition.”
No wonder many MPs didn’t want to answer the door
No one at the office of David Morris MP was prepared to speak to or meet campaigners. They didn’t answer their phone. Another occupant of the building said that whoever was in the MP’s office wouldn’t come down. As he wasn’t listed on the board of occupants, it was impossible to contact his office by the entrance intercom. So campaigners had to post his embroidered handkerchief in his letterbox.
Ben Wallace’s office in Great Eccleston was deserted. (Although as Defence Secretary in the middle of the Kabul evacuation crisis he wasn’t going to be in his constituency office.)
So were the offices of Jake Berry MP, Nigel Evans MP and Christian Wakeford MP). Again campaigners had to post their embroidered handkerchiefs through letterboxes.
Mark Menzies MP- no way of contacting him in constituency, no office, no answer on phone.
Paul Maynard MP- no answer on phone, address apparently on an industrial estate.
Katherine Fletcher MP, Andrew Stephenson MP, Antony Higginbotham MP, Scott Benton MP – staff came to door and accepted the hankerchiefs.
What to say about Sara Britcliffe MP for Hyndburn? She wasn’t present when Don’t Blow It! campaigners visited. That didn’t stop her making false accusations on Facebook that campaigners surrounded and intimidated her staff. The Lancashire Telegraph reported #HankyIntimidation and quoted the MP’s father, Cllr Peter Britcliffe, who was at his daughter’s constituency office and had to admit he was not intimidated by one woman wielding a scary hand embroidered handkerchief!
Tell your MP, wherever you live in England, whichever party they represent, that you want them to oppose NHS reorganisation into Integrated Care Systems (or whatever new name they give them to pretend their plan has changed) and you want them to vote against the Health and Care Bill at every stage of its passage through the House of Commons until it is finally defeated.
Unite Community Lancs carried out the campaign along with Chorley and South Ribble Hospital campaign, and members variously from Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign, SHA Liverpool City Region, KONP Merseyside, Defend Our NHS Wirral and Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), and also members from various CLPs and trades councils in Lancashire.
Tell your union: Don’t blow it! Kill the Health and Care Bill before it kills us.