I hope that you have heard by now that there will be a big demonstration in support of the NHS in London on March 4th. Tens of thousands of people will gather in Tavistock square at noon and march to Parliament to show their support for a publicly owned, fully funded NHS and social care service and to protest against cuts, closures and privatisation.
Some marchers will be seasoned health campaigners but many will be attending their first event of this type. These are ordinary people spurred into action by the extraordinary pressures facing our NHS.
It will be big – possibly huge – but will it make a difference? The media has a history of ignoring large demonstrations. Only this week several sizeable demonstrations against the Donald Trump visit were largely unreported by the press. Politicians increasingly seem to think they are immune from public opinion. So why should YOU bother to turn out for this one?
I hope I can convince you that this demonstration is different. The issue is more important, the timing is more crucial and the consequences of failure more devastating than any other problem this country has faced in recent history.
Although major issues remain, the world has made considerable progress with civil rights, racism and homophobia over recent decades. Public demonstrations will help to continue this progress and are hugely valuable. It is a gradual process with no time critical milestones.
The NHS issue is different in that chunks of it are failing at this very moment through a combination of under-investment and government policy. Its staff cannot continue under such pressure for much longer and we are at a tipping point. Without significant intervention the NHS will collapse.
If the NHS is allowed to fail it will be gone forever. No future government will have the means or the inclination to bring it back. It will be relegated to the history books as a brave but ultimately a failed experiment – and the huge benefits that we all take for granted will be lost for future generations.
So failure of the NHS will affect YOU, your family, friends and neighbours – not just now but forever.
If the NHS fails:-
- YOU will have to pay much more for your health care, but through insurance rather than general taxation.
- YOU will have to complete a load of paperwork every time you seek medical help
- YOU will have to pay up front for medical treatment and claim it back from your insurance company later.
- YOU will have to find co-payments or top up fees for decent quality treatments.
- YOU will learn what it feels like to worry if your health insurance package is adequate to cover your current illness
- YOU will have to argue with your insurance company when they say you are not covered.
- YOU will struggle to get insurance cover if you develop a chronic illness or happen to have been born with the wrong genetic makeup.
- YOU will know that losing your job may mean losing your health cover.
- YOU will live in a society where the poor have no access to health care and health bills are the commonest cause of bankruptcy.
- YOU will have a clear understanding of the meaning of the term “health poverty”.
- YOU will be likely to die younger.
The NHS needs investment and support and it needs it now. If we are to save the NHS we must influence politicians and change government policy. Politicians are not completely immune to public opinion. We need to make this demonstration big enough to get the attention of the national press. We need to make social media buzz. We need to inform the British public of the issues and recruit more to join the fight.
We need YOU!
PLEASE, please, please join us on the 4th March. Book a cheap ticket to the smoke, make a banner, round up your friends, pack up a picnic and join in! You don’t want to look back in 5 years time and wish you had done more.
I know that some or you live too far away, have other commitments or are not well enough to get there. You can still help by amplifying the noise that the rest of us make through social media using the hash tag #OurNHSdemo.
This is not just about the demonstration. If you come along I guarantee it will change your opinion. You will be much more likely to fight for the NHS, lobby your MP, write to the papers and spread the word in future. Your life will have added purpose and could be enriched as a result.
It is only one day – why not just do it.
Big Up the NHS
PS. I have been a passionate supporter of the NHS for many years but this will be my first demonstration. YOU can make it yours. You might get chance to say hello.
PPS. Please send a link to this blog to everyone you know who is NOT planning to attend the demonstration.
PPPS. And everyone else……..