This is what Jenny Shepherd said at the Defeat the Health and Care Bill zoom organised by Liverpool Women’s Hospital this evening. You can hear her 3 minute speech at around 1 hour 24 minutes in.
This is an introduction to the “Don’t Blow It!” campaign, that aims to KILL the contentious Health and Care Bill currently in Committee stage in the House of Commons.
I’m going to outline:
- Why we are doing this
- How we plan to do it
- How you and your local campaign group can take part, if you want to.
Why are we doing this?
We can’t see that ANY amendments will make the Health and Care Bill work in the interests of the NHS, patients, staff and the public. There is no alternative but to fight and stop the Bill, our lives literally depend on it.
The Bill is bad for patients and bad for NHS staff. We believe it is irredeemably not fit for purpose, and NHS and social care legislation must be deferred until a Bill can be drafted that will enable:
- world class health care for all
- a national system, adequately publicly funded and free at the point of need
- providing comprehensive treatments based on the patient’s best interest, decided together with clinicians not on the basis of financial calculations
- with national NHS staff pay and conditions and professions regulated independently of government politics.
We do not believe the Bill can be amended in a way that will enable any of these things.
How do we plan to Kill this Bill?
The campaign started with an appeal from Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS for people to embroider handkerchiefs for their MPs, with the message: “Don’t Blow It! Kill the Health and Care Bill before it kills us.”
In response, activists across England have embroidered around 90 handkerchiefs.
Now we are asking constituents of the 72 MPs whom the campaign is targetting to sign a letter to their MP, on this webpage. https://bit.ly/SignMPLetter.
The deadline for signing the letter, that will accompany delivery of the handkerchiefs to MPs, is 18 October.
This gives us time to send MPs the message before the amended Bill comes back to the House of Commons from the Public Bill Committee, sometime soon after the 2nd November.
The letter has the same message as the handkerchief, with a statement that explains the reasons for the message and a detailed Appendix with evidence that supports the statement, with precise references to the Bill.
We Own It – the national group campaigning for public ownership of public services – is working on the campaign with us. This week they are emailing their supporters in the 20 most marginal Tory constituencies asking them to sign the letter.
Together with local NHS campaign groups across England, we are targetting another 53 marginal MPs in all 3 main parties.
The Don’t Blow It! campaign aims to show the most marginal MPs who have the most to lose – their seats in the House of Commons – that the public won’t stand for dismantling the NHS.
So MPs need to vote against the Bill at every remaining stage of its passage through the House of Commons, until it is defeated.
We think that in each marginal constituency it should be possible to collect more constituents’ signatures to a “Don’t Blow It!” letter to the MP, than the MP’s majority.
That should give them pause for thought.
For this to work, around 150K constituents in 24 of the 42 Integrated Care Systems need to to sign this letter to their MPs – it’s our biggest campaign so far. We can’t do it alone. Please help make it a success. Some of our lives will depend on it.
How you and your local campaign group can take part
We’re already in touch with some campaign groups in constituencies with targetted MPs, to see if they’d like to add the Don’t Blow It! campaign to their existing actions to scrap the NHS Bill, to whatever extent suits them.
In Lancashire, campaigner Mary Whitby says they “have been having fun with the Don’t Blow It hankies” and have given them to several reluctant Tory MP recipients.
On the other hand, thanks to Save Chorley A&E’s stall at Wigan Diggers Festival, Jeremy Corbyn MP and actress Maxine Peake have shown support for the campaign.
We hope that if this is news to you, you might want to get involved too.
If you do, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put Don’t Blow It in the subject heading.
We have just prepared a Don’t Blow It campaign pack with tactics and resources for local campaign groups to take action.
The campaign pack is available on a password-protected webpage. We will send the password to campaign groups that request it.