March for Science: our call for evidence-based politics

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March for Science now has an international day of action, and the London demonstration took place on Saturday 14 April in Whitehall. Keep Our NHS Public was invited to share this message of solidarity:

Thank you for inviting KONP. We are a national campaign set up in 2005 – Then under the Blair government of the day, despite fantastic improvement in the NHS from funding changes up to the European average, Private Finance Initiative privatised the estate making up the new hospitals built and private contracts were deliberately used by Blair ostensibly to reduce waiting lists when investment in the NHS would have done the job. KONP is made up of current NHS staff, retired NHS staff and campaigners organised over 75 local groups throughout England.

We are committed to an NHS true to the original ideals of Nye Bevan: a health service for the entire population, funded by the public, provided by public services, accountable to the public through parliament, comprehensive in scope of health services, and universally accessible.

We share the pride in the science of medicine that the NHS practises and in the ethos of public service that 1.3 million staff deliver

We expect the standards of the NHS services to be based on evidence.

We have great worries for the NHS: it faces real and present danger.

We all have to deal with false news –  and in the NHS we have a secretary of state for Health & Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, who does not worry himself with the bother of following evidence-based practice.

Hunt attempted to push through the junior doctor contract, which was unsafe and unfair, arguing that it would deliver 7-day working and save 100s of lives per year:

  • There was no reliable clinical evidence for this
  • There was no funding evidence for this

Hunt claims that the NHS has never had more money. But that is meaningless – the evidence fails to show: 

  • that there is sufficient money to meet the growth in need: there is not
  • that money per person – per capita funding – is growing: it is not

Hunt claims that the Government is investing  in mental health

  • the reality is that core services – to meet the needs of newly presenting patients – have been savaged particularly from 2011/12. The funding bucket which was emptied 2010-2016 has had a couple of cups-worth thrown back in over the last two years. But the damage to children, the damage to adults with serious mental distress is irreparable.

Hunt claims to be the champion of clinical safety and that the NHS was the best prepared ever for the Winter Crisis this year. Yet on his watch there are:

  • 100,000 NHS vacancies
  • 35-40,000 nurse vacancies
  • 50000 elective procedures cancelled in January
  • 10,000 excess deaths above predicted in the first 7 weeks of 2018 – with no other reasonable explanation than the reduction in social care and health services

Our response

In  response to the dangers facing the NHS, KONP launched an alliance with other organisations in 2015 – Health Campaigns Together. We sent out an appeal: ‘Let us work together over what we agree on, rather than separate over what we disagree on.’

HCT now has 80 affiliates across the country, including 4 national unions.

Working with the TUC and with People’s Assembly, Health Campaigns Together, supported by KONP, are organising a great celebration and protest on 30 June, the Saturday before the 70th birthday of the NHS – founded 5th July 1948. We already have the support of six health unions – Unison, Unite the Union, GMB, BMA, RCN and BDA.

We will celebrate, but we will most certainly be protesting:

  • We will celebrate the brilliance of our scientists, doctors, nurses, therapists, secretaries, porters, managers.
  • We protest at their maltreatment.
  • We celebrate that the NHS still exists, for all the population, free at the point of use
  • We protest that this is no longer entirely true – as discrimination comes in with charges for migrants and passports demanded in hospitals – Need I say any more than the disgraceful treatment of 63 year old Albert Thompson, a resident in London for 44 years, operated on for prostate cancer and then denied oncology treatment by the Marsden because he has never needed to get a passport.
  • We celebrate what the NHS stands for
  • We protest against what this Govt is trying to do to it – dis-integrating, dis-reorganising, dis-mantling, de-funding and under the radar – privatising.
  • And with the departure from Europe added threats are very real.

If you have any time in your busy lives, do consider working with us at Keep Our NHS Public!


About March for Science

New Scientist video of the day in New York

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