Why NHS campaigners are launching their own manifesto: Manifesto for our Health Service
It’s election time again, and Parliamentary candidates from all parties claim that the NHS is safe with them.
In Shropshire, we’re entitled to be cynical. Our hospitals are going bust, with the Royal Shrewsbury and the Princess Royal between them borrowing £12 million in the last year just to keep the doors open1. We face the loss of one of our A&Es and one of our acute hospitals – as part of the ‘Future Fit’ plans that the clinical experts in the West Midlands say are risky and not evidence based2. The ambulance service is catastrophically under-funded and slipping further and further away from meeting national response time targets for 999 calls3. The future of our community hospitals remains uncertain, with no clear commitments around urgent care provision in rural areas, and our Minor Injuries Units threatened with closure4.
Privatisation is steadily eroding public ownership and accountability, with the part-privatisation of services including audiology, dermatology, optometry and pain management. Private companies in Shropshire also now run GP practices, Walk In Centres and the new Urgent Care Centre that has replaced part of A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital5. In an NHS run on free market lines, every bit of privatisation undermines the viability of NHS providers.
We need to know what our wannabe politicians think – not just sitting MPs, but every Parliamentary candidate in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. That’s why, in Shropshire Defend Our NHS, we’ve decided to ask them. We’ll be writing to them with our own manifesto6 – our outline of the minimum conditions required to keep an NHS that’s fit for purpose. We reserve the right to publish their responses!
Joyce Brand, speaking for Shropshire Defend Our NHS, said:
“With a general election coming up, we want to put our politicians on the spot. They can all say ‘Trust me, the NHS is safe’ – but do they actually mean it? Will they fight to keep our A&E open? Will they stop the closure of one of our local acute hospitals, Shrewsbury or Telford? Will they stand up to party leaders who demand more cuts and more privatisation? We want to know. That’s why our members will be contacting all Parliamentary candidates locally to find out if they’ll really defend the NHS, or if it’s all hot air. We’ll be very happy to publicise the results”. Continue reading