Actress Alison Steadman helps to launch new Rescue Plan for the NHS

Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together – for IMMEDIATE USE

This Sunday, to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS, campaigning organisations Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together have partnered up with several other organisations [1] to hold a candlelit vigil, [2] an online rally with speakers [3] and to launch their key demands to government in a Rescue Plan for the NHS.

As part of their Campaign, Keep our NHS Public patron, actress Alison Steadman (Gavin & Stacey), has given her backing and provided the voice-over for two short films created especially for the NHS birthday weekend. The first, The Coronavirus Scandal, [4] provides background to the government’s delayed and uncoordinated response to Covid-19 which dramatically increased the death toll. The second film, NHS Privatisation, (due for release tomorrow) features interviews with Lord Owen (Health Minister 1974-1976) and others. The films will be shared across all Keep Our NHS Public’s Facebook page and social media in order to help launch their 2020 Rescue Plan for the NHS [5]

The COVID Crisis has exposed how cuts to NHS funding has left it less prepared to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Between mid-March and Mid-April over 37,000 NHS beds were emptied of patients in preparation for the epidemic as elective work halted and patients were discharged. [6] The number of people awaiting treatment could top 10m by the end of the year. The Royal College of Surgeons estimate that it could take 5 years to get back to the waiting list levels seen before March. [7] With many NHS beds still closed, the NHS is now considering a deal worth up to £5bn to use 8,000 private hospital beds instead.

Alison Steadman, actress and a patron of Keep Our NHS Public said:

“Our NHS was created to keep people safe; to care and protect us all on an equal basis. We mustn’t let it slip away.”

Alia Butt, Psychotherapist and organiser for NHS staff in Keep Our NHS Public said:

“It’s incredibly upsetting that after months of expressing admiration and support for the NHS and its hard-working staff, the government see fit to lift the lockdown dangerously early, on the NHS anniversary weekend. This will of course result in added pressure on the NHS and its workers, including potentially the loss of yet more staff lives – a majority of whom will likely be from minority backgrounds. By opening businesses, pubs, hair salons, restaurants, and other places where social distancing will be very difficult, we will no doubt see a surge of covid19 cases in NHS hospitals – where staff are STILL not reliably receiving adequate PPE. The government recently voted against weekly testing for NHS staff, so risking more lives of the carers they were clapping not long ago.”

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview. Please contact Press Officer Samantha Wathen [email protected] or call her on 07776047472

Notes to editors

The online event will be co-hosted by Keep Our NHS Public, The People’s Assembly against Austerity, Health Campaigns Together, We Own It and supported by Unite, GMB, Unison, Arise, Labour Assembly Against Austerity, Build Back Better, NHS Support Federation, NEU, NUJ, TUC, Momentum, FBU, NPC, NHS Staff Voices, NIPSA, and the Socialist Health Association Rally speakers will include: Cat Hobbs (We Own It), Dr Sonia Adesara (Keep Our NHS Public), Helen O’Conner (GMB), John Lister (Health Campaigns Together), Dr Kambiz Boomla (Doctors in Unite), Kevin Courtney (National Education Union), Laura Ho (Build Back Better), Laura Pidcock (People’s Assembly), Rachel Ambrose (mental health nurse) and Roger McKenzie (Unison)

Operational Note for Candlelit Vigil TONIGHT

Date: Friday 3rd July 2020

Time/Location: 9.30pm Outside St Thomas’ Hospital, process across Westminster Bridge to convene at Downing Street for approx. 9.50pm – 10.30pm

NHS staff (wearing scrubs) along with around 60 campaigners and members of the public will march in a silent socially distanced way carrying candlelit lanterns from outside St Thomas’ Hospital, across Westminster bridge and convene outside Downing Street where they will fan out. There will then follow a respectful 20-minute vigil to honour the dead lost to coronavirus. Names of all the NHS and care staff that have passed away will be read out, and each time a single candle will be extinguished, until one by one, they are all blown out.

Contact for logistics on the night: Tom Griffiths (Campaigns Officer for Keep Our NHS Public) 07828 085645

Interviewees available on the night:
Alia Butt, NHS Psychotherapist
Dr Mona Kamal, Psychiatrist
Iain Wilson, hospital nurse