Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

london demo

Mobilise to save our NHS!

Under the scorching sun 50,000 people marched through London last weekend to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and to fight for its survival.  Despite government promises of an extra £20 billion, there is widespread concern that without grassroots mobilisation, this much cherished institution will be run down and privatised, as Lucette Davies of East Sussex Save the NHS Campaign explains.

This was the third time a march to fight for our NHS has been organised since the early part of last year. There was a carnival style atmosphere, although the outrage protestors felt towards our Government was palpable. But why are so many people angry about how our NHS is being treated?

Health Campaigns Together is an umbrella organisation for many local and national campaign groups, unions and political parties who all are wanting to protect our NHS. They organised last weekend’s march in collaboration with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

A local campaign group to fight for NHS services exists now in every part of the country and many have successfully been able to reverse plans that would have damaged the services available to their population. The East Sussex Save the NHS Campaign has been set up recently in anticipation of proposals that will further damage our access to healthcare services in East Sussex.

Thanks to the generosity of Hastings and Rye West branch members this campaign was able to pay for affiliation to Health Campaigns Together.


Many people know that our NHS is struggling but many are also confused about why this is so. Our media has failed spectacularly to explain the reasons why we are seeing increased waiting times, people being treated on trolleys in hospital corridors, the closures of departments and staffing issues within our hospitals.

Some may say our NHS is no longer fit for purpose, that we cannot afford the NHS any longer or that it would be run better in private ownership. It is imperative that we begin to get our heads around the frankly chaotic series of political changes that have been forced on the service since 2012.

Race has become a major sticking point in our NHS.  Many of the Windrush generation who Amber Rudd was eager to see deported had in fact worked in our NHS. Although this led to the eventual resignation of Amber Rudd, the hostile environment towards immigrants still continues today despite the news that a recruitment drive for nurses will take place, ironically, in the Carribean.

Many of the public will say that the NHS treats too many people. They will support the fact that our NHS is now required to work as a border force, checking the immigration status of patients before they are treated (as if they didn’t already have enough to do). But the truth is that immigrants are more likely to work in the NHS than receive care and are more likely to be paying into our economy than a British person.

Free-market failures

Our NHS was set up on 5 July 1948 with principles that gave us the most equitable and efficient form of delivering healthcare to the nation. The problems we see in the service today epitomise the failures of free-market thinking that our governments have increasingly supported since the 1970s. This thinking has led to public services being treated like small businesses and has led to decisions being made primarily on a financial basis as opposed to how the population’s needs are best met. Profit has been placed before people.

We still need an efficient and equitable healthcare service. To return to the founding principles of the NHS in 1948 is the best way to achieve that.

East Sussex Save the NHS Campaign was set up as an organisation which would allow local political parties, campaign groups, trade unions and individuals to co-ordinate their campaigning efforts for maximum effect.

This campaign will aim to educate the public about why we are experiencing a crisis in our NHS. It will aim to inspire people to get involved in fighting for our NHS. It will also aim to act as a means of co-ordinating the campaigning efforts of the groups who have affiliated to the campaign.

A blog post published on the website gives campaigners a fact sheet so they can feel well-briefed when they go out to speak to members of the public.

There is much reason to believe that local campaigning for NHS services could be successful. You may have heard about Sustainability and Transformation Plans.  These plans nationally are aiming to cut £22 bn of funding from the NHS in England. In East Sussex we are waiting to see publication of proposals on how changes to our hospitals can be made to incorporate cuts.

If this campaign becomes well-supported and active before these proposals are published we would stand a good chance of protecting our population’s access to the healthcare services they need.


If you wish to have somebody come to speak to your organisation about the campaign, then please get in touch ( We have a Facebook page and group as well as a Twitter account (@ESussexNHS). There is also a link on the website which will take you to the sign-up form for email newsletters.  Please keep in touch and share your ideas with this campaign.


Posted 18:03 Monday, Jul 9, 2018 In: Health Matters

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