SOS NHS protests send clear message to Government on NHS spending

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On Saturday, over 85 protests happened up and down the country demanding emergency funding for the NHS, proper pay for health, care and support workers and a fully public NHS. In the current political climate this is a massive achievement. Huge congratulations are due to Keep Our NHS Public supporters and activists who were essential to the success of the day.

Saturday’s event was held under the banner SOS NHS, our new campaigning alliance made up of over 50 different organisations who all want to save our NHS. The protests sent a clear message to Government that they must do more to safeguard the service they have consciously and needlessly run into the ground. The NHS is more vital than ever and we can and will prevent it from being destroyed by the Conservative administration.

Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS Workers Say No, and the major trade unions led the effort to bring the largest number of campaigns together ahead of the spring budget and force the Government to U-Turn on NHS spending. The Government’s plans to further defund the NHS and allow the steady creep of influence from the private sector are just some of the threats presented by the Health and Care Bill working its way through parliament now. While some MP’s are calling for increased military spending, we must stand firm and say no to the Health and Care Bill and demand tax payers money is spent on health care not warfare.

SOS NHS and its supporting organisations believe investment is urgently needed to provide funds for more staff, tackle soaring costs for backlog maintenance and reopen almost 5,000 NHS beds that have not been used since the pandemic began. To stop the continued worsening of the crisis in the NHS, the coalition aims to persuade the Government to take immediate, concrete steps to relieve the crisis in hospitals, mental health, primary, community and social care, make a major U-turn and revise the Spending Review.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public, says:

We are shouting out loud and clear from every corner of the country to Government: fund our NHS properly. You are failing our hospitals, GP and mental health services – failing 6 million patients on waiting lists. Stop ploughing £billions into private hospitals and build up our public services instead. Pay our NHS staff what they deserve and show respect for their skill and dedication. And scrap that damaging Health and Care Bill that breaks up the NHS and allows private parasites to live off NHS waiting lists.

Mike Forster, Chair of Health Campaigns Together, says:

Health Campaigns Together has been an active and important part of the SOSNHS alliance since it was launched last year. The crisis in the NHS is more acute than the height of the pandemic. Staff vacancies are through the roof and waiting lists have never been higher. Emergency funding is urgently required to begin putting right the damage of austerity-driven policies over the last decade. NHS staff deserve a decent pay rise and the drift towards privatisation must be halted. We have built a formidable alliance of over 40 groups, unions and professional associations. Our voices must be heard. We are fighting for the future of the NHS. Please join your local protests this Saturday.

SOS NHS has also launched a petition started by frontline nurse and member of the group NHS Workers Say No, Holly Johnston asking Chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit the additional funding required.

Holly Johnston, NHS nurse and member of NHS Workers Say No, says:

As frontline workers we have seen the devastating impact of an underfunded and understaffed service on patient safety throughout the pandemic and before it. NHS staff are not valued by this government and we have seen deliberate erosion of our pay for over 10 years, resulting in real terms pay cuts year after year.  NHS staff and patients deserve more and we need to see investment in the NHS to safeguard it’s future and for it to be a fully publicly owned service for our society. The health of the nation is suffering and austerity has meant that health inequality has worsened. we need to address funding, privatisation and pay to invest in the long term future of the NHS. NHS staff can see the damage being done to the NHS and that is why we have joined the SOS NHS campaign and are hosting and joining in on the day of action this Saturday the 26th, to fight for our patients, our NHS and ourselves.

Find out more about the SOS NHS coalition and what you can do to help here.

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