Image: Student nurses protesting in January. Rights: Ron F/The Weekly Bull/Flickr. Some rights reserved.
The NHS is having to spend untold sums to defend its services from takeover by Virgin and other private firms – and it’s losing the fight. Just this week, the local NHS provider lost its battle to keep Kent’s community health services in the NHS, and the contract will now be awarded to Virgin. As the report says, “It is not known how much the three NHS organisations have spent on legal fees.” But such costs are everywhere in the marketised NHS – the additional administration costs of running the NHS as a market are estimated to be at least £10bn a year and maybe as high as £30bn a year.
We should remember that when we hear that the NHS needs further ‘efficiency savings’. Or that our junior doctors don’t deserve a fair salary.
Or that we should force healthcare students to pay to work, even?
Because that’s exactly what is happening with the proposed changes to the NHS bursary. On the 4th June, outside St. Thomas’ Hospital, students, staff and patients will be gathering to fight for our NHS. To say that we disagree with NHS bursary changes which ask students to pay for the privilege of giving care to the most vulnerable.
We will march to the Department of Health and cry out that we are still willing to fight for our NHS. Not just because it is a disgrace to make anyone to pay to work but because our NHS will not be able to cope with the loss of thousands of future staff.
If you support us, if you still have the will to fight for your health service because you know that you will one day need it, then join us. Our ancestors sacrificed much for us to have the NHS in a time of true austerity.
And this year, junior doctors, community pharmacists, healthcare students and most importantly patients, have all had to fight for our human right to healthcare. It has been a struggle for everyone involved but it is worth it because we still believe in the NHS. We still believe in the principle of a universal, publicly funded and organised healthcare system, cradle to grave.
It is not just a moral obligation but one which is backed up by evidence. Private healthcare does not work. It does not improve patient care or reduce costs. What it does do is make it more likely for you to have unnecessary treatment or to become bankrupt, but it is not a system which should be implemented in a country which is aiming to provide a cost-effective and efficient health service. It is a neoliberal monstrosity. And it’s beginning to be implemented here, with the costs borne by staff, healthcare students, and patients alike.
Can you attend one more protest? #BursaryOrBust