- England no longer has a fully nationalised, comprehensive health service.
- The transfer of NHS services to private companies has already begun and will accelerate in April when the Act comes fully into force.
- Health professionals and the public overwhelmingly rejected the Act – a ‘top down reorganisation’ explicitly ruled out by David Cameron before the election.
- The Act undermines our democracy, threatens a profoundly important common interest, and exposes the UK government to a potentially irreversible incursion of corporate power. This is an outrage and it should be reversed. That is what OurNHS is about. It is a new three-year project, hosted by openDemocracy, dedicated to reinstating a genuine National Health Service in England. This short document sets out: why OurNHS is needed, what we will do, how we will do it and what resources are necessary for us to carry it out.
Why OurNHS is needed
We began OurNHS by consulting those already fighting the changes, and became convinced that our project is needed to support and build on this work. There are campaigns led by health professionals and experts, groups resisting the changes from within the NHS, a new NHS party aiming to provide a united front, powerful and diverse campaigning and pressure groups, journalists, bloggers and activists fighting local and national battles. Why, given the enormous effort spent fighting it, did the Act go through? Now that it has, where is the public outcry, given that the English people don’t want these reforms?
The answer is not that no work is being done, or that there is a lack of commitment, expertise or passion. But this resistance has been sidelined by the mainstream media, pressured into silence by those with vested interests in the reforms, and while Labour is hampered by complicity, a cynical campaign has slung mud and demoralised public sector workers. Many campaigners are overworked health professionals, with limited media or campaigning expertise. There is a dearth of clear reporting that takes the arguments to a wider public. There is also a crying need for a recognised, non-niche media platform that can collaborate, partner, and help bring existing work together into the public sphere.
This is the contribution OurNHS aims to make. Rooted in the efforts of others, our purpose is to amplify and strengthen the arguments and strategies needed to save the NHS.
What OurNHS will do:
1. Bring together and help resource existing networks, campaigns, bloggers, journalists, unions, activists, patient groups, health bodies, academics and concerned citizens who want to save the NHS, providing a hub for debate, reporting, campaigning and strategy-building.
- Publish original and aggregated material in all formats that:
- Uncovers the trails of funding and influence between the healthcare industry, the consultants – such as McKinsey – and Parliament
- Maps the changes on the ground as the new health market comes into force
- Reveals the experiences and reflections of regular people and professionals
- Debates the best forms of democracy, participation and accountability for the NHS
- Use this platform to campaign for the reinstating of a genuine NHS after the 2015 election.
How OurNHS will do this
- We will publish for three years to 2016, through to the May 2015 election and the vital six months that follow.
- As we have done from the outset, we will consult with those already fighting the changes, building our work around support for them. Our official partners already include: 38 Degrees, Keep Our NHS Public, CHPI – a new health think-tank led by Professor Colin Leys, Social Investigations, Richard Murphy’s Tax Research UK, SpinWatch and NHS Support Federation.
- OurNHS is a dedicated section of openDemocracy.net, (see openDemocracy’s About Page for more info). It is hosted by the British section of oD, OurKingdom. We have over a decade of experience in publishing breaking investigative work and campaigning journalism and feeding this into the mainstream media and policy circles.
- The project is led by Oliver Huitson, author of the 2012 report, How the BBC betrayed the NHS, supported by his fellow co-editors, Niki Seth-Smith, Anthony Barnett and Clare Sambrook, who won the Paul Foot Award and Bevins Prize for investigative journalism in 2010, primarily for her openDemocracy work on child detention. Children’s health and the privatisation of public services are areas of expertise for the team.
- We have already created and will expand an Advisory Board - as journalists, we need on-going advice from health experts supporting the project. To date, our board includes: Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, Prof Allyson Pollock, professor of public health research and policy at Queen Mary, Prof Sir Al Aynsley-Green, former Children’s Commissioner, Dr Ingrid Wolfe, honorary research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Gabriel Scally, formerly of the DoH, now an IPPRfellow.
- We will build on our distinctive reputation for serious yet accessible coverage and critique of the NHS reforms. Some examples from our archive are: Professor Colin Leys, here, Professor Wendy Savage, here, Lord David Owen, here, Professor Sir Al Aynsley Green, Dr Ingrid Wolfe, Dr Simon Lenton, Dr Sebastian Kraemer and Dr Sara Hamilton, here, Clare Sambrook, here, and Allyson Pollock & David Price, here.
Media inquiries, including requests to interview authors and editors, should be sent to Caroline Molloy at [email protected] Please help us respond in a timely manner by including a phone number and the deadline that you are working towards
General enquiries, including input, advice, and for info on funding, please email Caroline Molloy at [email protected]
Get involved with OurNHS
We are looking for a volunteer to help with OurNHS. This would be strictly on a voluntary basis, this is not an intern position. The candidate would choose their own hours, help decide to which areas of OurNHSthey would be contributing, and would be free to work from home or from our office in Dalston, London. It is suggested that they be available for weekly meetings in our offices, but in exceptional cases this can be done by Skype. They would be invited to suggest their own projects to run as part of OurNHS and on which they would lead.
We will provide ongoing support and training to the candidate and there will be regular opportunities for feedback on their experience.
We need volunteering help in the below areas:
- editing, subbing and proofing
- web publishing and image sourcing
- event organizing
- sourcing external material for re-publishing into OurNHS
Please send a CV and covering letter to: Oliver Huitson at [email protected]
Sourcing material for OurNHS:
Whether you are working on another NHS campaign or platform, or keep a keen eye out for news and analysis on health, you can help by sending us suggestions for re-publishing into OurNHS (we will of course seek permission before promoting work on our website). Please email suggestions to: Oliver Huitson at [email protected] For more information on pitching / contributing / submitting content, see our Contribute page.
How you can support OurNHS
We have funding for the first stage of OurNHS, thanks to generous support in the form of a donation by Henry Tinsley and a grant from the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust. These have made it possible for us to launch. We have very low operating costs, but need to raise significantly more money to meet the costs for the three-year project.
If you care about the future of England’s health service, and believe in the principle of free and comprehensive healthcare for all, please support OurNHS to help us cover the remaining £27,500 we need for 2013.
One way you can help is to make a donation. You can do this by contacting Oliver Huitson: [email protected]
Existing support for OurNHS
“Health campaigning organisations really appreciate the contribution of openDemocracy’s UK section, OurKingdom, to our campaign against the demolition of the National Health Service. We hope they will continue to provide a counterbalance to the forces that are ranged against our public services.” (Dr Jacky Davis, Chair of Patient’s Association)
“The NHS is the cornerstone of our post-war settlement. It is being undermined without a proper fight - just in the way we lost in effect our public dental health service without properly defending it. Neither Labour nor the Liberals are providing the leadership needed to preserve the NHS. It has to come from somewhere else.” (James Curran speaking about OurNHS)
“OurKingdom is an immensely important organisation with a credible track record of harnessing citizen power. Its new initiative on the NHS on the NHS is timely, much needed and deserves support.” (Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, former Children’s Commisioner)
"OurKingdom has established itself as an incredibly interesting voice in the debate over the future of British politics. OK has original ideas, and it airs them in original ways. It grabs people who have never before been interested in politics and makes them see the importance of getting involved."(David Lammy MP - Labour backbencher)
“OurKingdom has become a crucial conduit for public discourse and for the promotion of radical ideas, at a time when the political parties struggle, to little avail, to articulate policies and principles that seem relevant to the contemporary citizen.”(Trevor Smith - Lord Smith of Clifton, working Lib Dem peer)
“IPPR researchers use OurKingdom’s content in their work, as well as contributing pieces of their own to the site. Anything posted up on OurKingdom is guaranteed an informed, expert and engaged audience. It is a very important platform for deliberative policy debate.”(Nick Pearce - Director, Institute for Public Policy Research)
“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it" (Aneurin Bevan, 1948)