Our brand-new campaign SOS NHS is the most ambitious ever for the NHS.
The campaign initiated by Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together is already supported by around 40 key organisations representing a diverse range of people, united in their desire to defend the NHS against neglect, underfunding and privatisation.
We are demanding £20 billion in extra spending. We know this is a huge amount of money.
But there is so much evidence to show why this much is needed. The real terms cuts in spending every year since 2010 have left an enormous financial hole to fill. NHS Providers in 2019 estimated that gap at £35bn a year: £20bn is just over half of that, a one-off down payment.
How would more funding help?
This money would allow the NHS to invest in restoring and expanding capacity by:
- repairing and rebuilding dilapidated hospitals, replacing outdated and overused equipment
- reopening the 5,000 acute beds still closed since the Covid pandemic struck
- investing in mental health, with new buildings and staff
- fully fund last year’s miserable 3% pay award, and fund a pay increase to help retain and recruit the staff we need
- rebuilding public health services to take back over the Test and Trace system and help tackle growing health inequalities
Of course, the chancellor Rishi Sunak will reject the demand and claim it’s unaffordable.
But we know that’s not true. We know he happily threw £47billion into ‘bounce back loans’, and is not bothered that more than half of it seems to have been stolen or lost. We know too that ministers happily squandered billions on dodgy, secretive PPE contracts with their mates and upwards of £17bn on the disastrous privatised test and trace system.
They wasted £2bn paying private hospitals for bed space that was hardly used in 2020, and up to £10bn to do more of the same for four more years: now Sajid Javid has ordered NHS bosses to sign yet another wasteful deal with private hospitals.
If the money can be raised to waste, it can be raised to invest. Instead, Sunak’s spending review locks in under-funding till 2025. We all deserve better
We need to give NHS staff hope that things will get better, and that they will be rewarded for the incredible effort so many have put into fighting Covid. We need to convince patients and the public that the NHS can recover from over 6 million people on waiting lists, patients dying in ambulances outside hospitals, and huge delays in mental health treatment.
Funding is far from the only thing we need to fight for in defending our NHS: but without more investment in the NHS the private sector will entrench itself still further, and without more money there is no answer to NHS staff shortages. is now leading the fight on these issues. This rally is just the beginning.
Join us in fighting for our NHS
Let’s make sure we build a movement so massive, loud and strong that the government cannot ignore us. Let’s be heard in every town and city: get friends, family, work colleagues, councillors and MPs on the case.
There are things you can do right now to help us. Please sign our petition or consider supporting in other ways too by going to https://sosnhs.org/what-you-can-do/ This fight needs the support of all of us.
35 years ago, a campaign that was nowhere near as strong as this forced Margaret Thatcher’s government to increase spending. We can do better than that now. We have to.
We’ve only got one NHS – it’s time to fight for its life. Let’s kick this weak, corrupt, despicable government into another U-turn.
Abridged version of John Lister’s speech from the launch rally of SOSNHS on 19 January 2022. View rally here.
Dr John Lister is a health policy academic, editor of Health Campaigns Together and and The Lowdown, and a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public.