Why we need a People’s NHS

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Keep Our NHS Public is launching a new campaign to build support for our vision for a People’s NHS.

A public NHS for all is the most successful model of health care provision this country has ever had. That’s why we’re asking campaign organisations, trade unions, health care experts, politicians and perhaps most important of all, you, the general public, to back our call for a return to the founding principles of the NHS, because they work.

Our vision is based on the following 5 main principles:

1. A publicly provided NHS: end private involvement
2. An NHS funded to succeed – not defunded to fail
3. Respect, recognition, and decent pay & conditions for all health workers
4. Re-invest in public health & tackle health inequalities
5. Rebuild, restore, and expand our NHS


Find out more here about our vision for a 
People’s NHS.


The model of a People’s NHS isn’t a new idea – it’s the NHS we all know and love, based on its founding principles: publicly provided, owned, accountable, and free at the point of use to all who need it.
When funded well, the NHS has consistently given us one of the best healthcare services in the world Not only that, it’s a good model that has delivered since 1948. A People’s NHS, properly funded and without the parasite of the private sector undermining the NHS from within, will rebuild and expand, and restore its place amongst the best.

The NHS model has not failed the population; Governments have failed the NHS.

The NHS founding principles were, and remain, soud but the steady privatisation and defunding of our NHS has led to the worst crisis and worst performance in its history.
Over 500 people died in the last year due to ambulance delays of up to 15 hours. Hundreds of avoidable deaths every week have resulted from delays in treatment from ambulance transfer to A&E to admission. 7.8 million people are on waiting lists. Tens of thousands of people are avoidably dying in a single year. This is not acceptable – it is a political choice made by this Government bordering on social murder.

We’re deeply concerned by the direction of travel for our NHS that is being proposed by most of the major political parties. You can read all our responses about NHS policy on our news page here.

KONP has consistently challenged the Government over the devastation it has wrought on our NHS over the past 13 years. Whatever was done to the NHS by previous Conservative, and Labour Governments pales in comparison to the rapid decline in service provision we have seen on their watch since 2010. It is therefore shocking, if not surprising, to see how lacklustre NHS policy announcements were at the Conservative Party conference this year.

They buried the NHS because they know how weak they are on this vital topic for most voters. Instead, when the NHS has been talked about at all, the focus has been on their announcement that trans hospital patients are to be banned from female- and male-only wards, and the release of the baffling statement that the Conservatives plan to ‘Kick woke ideology out of science’; a highlight among a series of equally unhinged moments at this year’s conference. 

Sadly, we were also disappointed by the solutions on offer from the Labour Party conference too. We’ve already challenged the logic of shadow health secretary Wes Streeting’s prioritising of funding for the primary care sector over emergency care. We argued that ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’ is woefully inadequate, especially when the roots of the current NHS crisis are to do with delays in A&E departments and hospital admissions, waiting lists and a service-wide staffing crisis driven by the refusal of Government to pay staff properly. All alongside the disgraceful neglect of social care.

Streeting’s speech to conference on the NHS is not the one that health campaigners were hoping for. It contained significant red flags for those who fight for the re-establishment of an integrated NHS which is universal, publicly funded, publicly delivered and publicly accountable – principles of the NHS model, previously and unanimously supported at the 2017 Labour conference. We believe what Labour is proposing for our NHS is ‘not what the doctor ordered’.

Liberal Democrat Ed Davey’s speech to conference wasn’t much better. Ignoring the complicity of the Liberal Democrats in the undermining of the NHS during the Cameron-Clegg Coalition 2010-2015 he proclaimed: ‘I am so proud that we Liberal Democrats have consistently led the way in highlighting the crises in the NHS and proposing solutions.’ But in truth, the LibDems say nothing on the funding needs of the NHS and studiously avoid making any promises on NHS privatisation. Davey offers only ‘low-tech, affordable ways to save our NHS’, the same model of focusing funding on the primary care sector, and vague promises on fixing social care. 

In short, the big three major political parties are all offering us a similar narrative of an NHS that’s a funding black hole; an NHS that needs the private sector to save it from itself and the inadequate policies that we know won’t do enough to end the NHS crisis.

On the other hand, the Green Party leader, Carla Denyer told conference: “The Green Party believes in an NHS that sits fully in public hands, free at the point of use for all… We know that claps don’t pay the bills. We believe in decent pay and fair conditions for public sector workers and an NHS that provides the health safety net it was designed to all those years ago.”

While we applaud this position and welcome the Green Party’s interventions in Parliament on these issues – not to forget those from other outspoken back-bench MPs from Labour, SNP, and others who do stand up for our NHS – we cannot escape the truth that what the NHS needs, captured in our vision, is woefully underrepresented in Westminster politics.


That’s why we’re calling on politicians to change course and back our vision for a People’s NHS.


The NHS founding principles were, and remain, sound but the steady privatisation and defunding of our NHS has led to the worst crisis and worst performance in its history.

We are at a crossroads. The NHS crisis is now undeniable, and it is deepening all the time. But with a General Election on the horizon, and little on offer (with some noble exceptions) from the main political parties, and more privatisation threatened – we must act now to ensure the opportunity for restoring a People’s NHS is not lost forever.

Over the months ahead we’ll be launching lots of complementary initiatives to build  awareness of and support for our vision for a People’s NHS.


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2 Comments

  1. We fought for this. The Tories want it to be privatised. AND LABOUR (under Starmer) wants to privatise big chunks under stealth. We must resist!!!

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