|Save The NHS Petition|
Disc with 426,000 signatures handed to local MP
A group of Ealing residents and health professionals met Angie Bray, MP, on Friday 24th June to hand in a petition against the current proposals for reorganising the NHS.
The 12 people attending were all members of the 38 Degrees 'Save the NHS' campaign, which is opposing the Health and Social Care Bill before parliament. The group gave Angie Bray a CD containing thousands of signatures from people who had signed the on-line petition, plus a written petition signed by over 300 local people. After the petition was presented, 3 members of the group met with the MP in her office to discuss the issues.
Sarah Edwards from Ealing Green Party was among those attending the lobby. After the event, Sarah said:
"The Green Party believes that market principles do not belong in the NHS. To save money, what the Government should be doing is stop wasting billions of public money on Private Finance Initiatives".
Angie Bray said:
'' "I was very happy to receive the petition outside our Association office where I had been holding my surgery. After it was handed to me I went back inside with three of the petitioners to talk more about their concerns with the NHS reforms. We were not able to come to any agreement as I do believe that the NHS does need reform - any organisation the size of the NHS needs reform from time to time to ensure it can meet all the demands of the 21st century from a fast-growing, longer-living population. I did promise to deliver the petition to the Secretary of Health, Andrew Lansley, which I have now done.''
NHS Campaigners Judy and Arthur Breens review their experience of the meeting:
We assembled opposite Ealing Fire Station. We moved off with various banners. It is a short walk down the Uxbridge Road to the Conservative HQ but in that time hoots, honks, calls and thumbs up signs from the public accompanied us. In February few had heard of Lansley’s Bill. The public have woken up. They are beginning to realise that what is at stake is our world class National Health Service fighting for its life.
During the 20-minute meeting it was clear that our MP is very keen to promote market forces in the NHS. She felt one important reason for the Bill was to promote choice but was not fully aware of the choice that already exists within the system or that increased choice brings with it increased cost. She appeared somewhat naïve about the real cost of change in these difficult times and unclear how cost effective our publicly run system is compared with our neighbours in Europe. That old chestnut that the Bill is needed “because the country is bankrupt” came out but we can’t see how changes that essentially extend market competition by engaging the private sector under the pretext of increasing patient choice will address this problem.
Another concern discussed was that the successful collaborative approach that characterises the NHS will be undermined by competition and with the need to make savings these changes will waste scarce funds. The medical professionals present were very concerned about the cuts in staff they are now experiencing and that as finance is further squeezed some rationing of services will become inevitable. They wanted assurance that equality of access will continue based on need, not ability to pay (a founding principle of the NHS).
We concluded by reminding Angie that David Cameron had assured the public before the election that he “loved the NHS” and that there would be “no more top down reorganisations of the NHS” Thus there is no electoral mandate for these drastic NHS changes which are unpopular with the public and opposed by virtually every medical professional body. On this Angie could not disagree.
The MP for Ealing Central and Acton is not for turning.
28 June 2011