Sunday 5th July marks the NHS 72nd anniversary. We want to celebrate it, but also demand better care is taken of it, as the last ten years of Government policy have seen it woefully unprepared to protect the general public. That's why we've launched a 2020 vision for healthcare, to coincide with the NHS birthday.
During the coronavirus crisis, NHS and Social Care workers have been called upon to work on the frontline to keep us safe. They have often had to work without proper resources and PPE, within an already failing system.
Many have been forced to sacrifice their lives. In the UK we have now reached the frightening number of excess deaths linked to coronavirus of 65,000 (up to 15 June 2020), the second-highest death toll in the world. The NHS deserves better, we all deserve better.
That's why working alongside Health Campaigns Together we have put together a detailed 'Rescue Plan' for the NHS. Find out more below.
Our 2020 vision for a post-Covid NHS – a rescue plan
- rebuild and properly fund the NHS
- proper pay and respect for all NHS and care staff– end outsourcing
- end racism in the NHS and all migrant charges
- NHS out of all trade deals
- public health back in public hands
- go further: radical reform of social care
A government-made disaster. The staggering scale of the coronavirus pandemic has been demonstrated in the UK by the highest rate of ‘excess deaths’ in Europe, with BAME communities the hardest hit. Disasters with testing, PPE, outsourcing, and failure to accept responsibility all demand a public enquiry.
Collateral damage. Cancellation of routine services have had severe consequences for non-covid related illness. Emptied NHS beds with money flowing to private hospitals for little activity mean expanding waiting lists and misery for millions. Increased demand from pandemic induced stress is putting mental health services under enormous strain.
Restoring services and building for the future. A ten year investment plan, complete planning rethink, jettisoning of both the NHS Long Term Plan and reconfigurations of local services are all needed. The financial settlement announced in 2018 is now clearly totally inadequate to the task of rebuilding.
Proud beginnings. The NHS was created 72 years ago in the ashes of war. Bevan’s nationalisation of health care, funding from general taxation, and making it free at the time of use, set a shining example. The sickening fear of being unable to pay for care when ill was swept away. A truly national system brought massive benefits for training and research as well as the ability to plan services and allocate resources based on local needs.
Today’s challenge. The generations that made this historic breakthrough now need the support of the NHS together with a new system of social care. It is for a younger generation to be inspired by a fresh vision with rebuilding a new and better NHS at its heart.
Refund. The Department of Health and Social Care must make good its promise to provide the NHS with “whatever funding it needs to respond to the coronavirus outbreak”. This should include funds to restore and improve services as well as managing the ongoing burden of COVID-19. There must be a halt to the sell off of “surplus” land and assets while a thorough post-covid strategic review is completed. An energetic workforce strategy is needed to bring waiting lists back under control.
Reintegrate. The undermining of a national system of health care since 1989 must be reversed, and the 2012 Health and Social Care Act repealed. Use of private hospitals should be severely limited and NHS capacity rapidly restored.
Caring for staff. The professionalism and commitment of NHS and care workers demands recognition with a pay rise. Ongoing protection through reliable supply of PPE must be ensured, with mitigation of the additional risks for BAME staff. Outsourcing of key workers to private companies must be reversed and all staff brought back into the NHS team.
A universal service. The NHS must be returned to a universal service with no exclusions of vulnerable groups (e.g. those with uncertain immigration status) with an end to ‘visitors’ charging’ and visa surcharges for overseas workers. The danger of further NHS fragmentation through trade deals must be neutralised with legislation that specifically precludes this.
Public health. Public health needs to be refocused on local authorities with reinvestment for preventative care such as drug, alcohol and obesity services, as well as in contact tracing for controlling coronavirus and future pandemics.
Radical reform. COVID-19 has highlighted the appalling state of social care. Government must take control of care homes and services and end the flow of public funds to off shore companies. A national care and support for independent living service should be run locally and resources used to improve the terms, conditions and training of care staff.
Prioritising the health of the people. Spending on health and social care is a prerequisite for a healthy population and economy. £137 billion of government money and extended guarantees up to £1 trillion prompted by the 2007/9 banking crisis sets a precedent. Huge investment is needed to ensure the UK economy emerges from the current crisis; the NHS deserves its share. Quantitative easing, corporations paying their taxes, and low levels of interest would make all this possible. However, funding must not be achieved at the expense of the poorest 90% of the population by a return to austerity.