Opinion: In this post truth world, it’s the same people who promised £350M extra each week for the NHS on the side of their red campaign buses who are now telling us that we can no longer afford the NHS

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Former MP and Health campaigner, Andrew George, told the NHS Rally in Truro on Saturday that the NHS now faces a fight for its very survival.
Mr George recounted times when local campaigners have successfully organised protests of 20,000 and 30,000 people. He pointed out to the crowd gathered around High Cross in Truro that these protests were about particular services – West Cornwall Hospital ion Penzance, St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle and other vital health services.
But he said the threats to the NHS were now more fundamental – now the NHS faces a fight for its very survival.
Andrew George was joined by former GP and Former Chair of KCCG, Dr Colin Philip, Louvain Sanders from Cornwall Labour and a mental health worker, Amanda Pennington – campaigner on health and social care and Green Party member and Sarah Woodward – Unison regional organiser.  Stuart Roden was master of ceremonies.

Andrew George address to NHS rally, Truro 4th March

Saturday 4th March 2017
Many of you were with me and 20,000 others in 2002 to march to defend West Cornwall Hospital or the 30,000 who marched through Hayle 10 years ago to defend the key NHS services.

But this is a different. It is a more insidious assault on our NHS.

This is just the beginning of the campaign. Not the end.

The NHS born July 1948. Liberal politician (William Beveridge) its architect – delivered by a remarkable reforming post war Labour Government.

Now, nearly 70 years old, the NHS faces a fight for its very survival

Why do I say this?

Not just that:

  • The Tories opposed the creation of the NHS and have never really understood why it’s so popular
  • In this post truth world we should know that a Tory Health Sec who wears an NHS badge and declares passionate devotion to the NHS clearly cannot be trusted
  • The Conservatives who were so quick to criticise the Labour Party for proposing a so called ‘death tax’ are now quietly proposing a death tax of their own

It’s because the excuses don’t add up.

  • We’re told the NHS must make £22bn efficiency gains by 2020 when each year the cumulative deficits mount up, and are now at record levels
  • The UK now spend less on our NHS than any comparable country in the EU and OECD and the gap is growing – ours is falling from 8% of GDP to 6.6% in 2020 whilst those in other countries are rising.
  • They’re asking every NHS body to sign up to unfeasible plans which are destined to be proven catastrophically undeliverable
  • They’re asking too much of NHS and Care staff who are already understaffed overstretched and under rewarded

 

The Tories now want our Cornwall’s Health and Care managers to cut £270M from our NHS and care services by 2020. They’re holding a gun to their heads and forcing them to make the cuts. These are called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).
I have nothing against those who are doing their best to make these massive Tory cuts less bad than they might be.
They have an laudably optimistic vision which we can all share…
One where we

  • do more to prevent ill health
  • have a more efficient and productive NHS which effectively combats waste
  • have more effective integration of services.

All good stuff. No one would argue against that or the other motherhood and apple pie objectives of Cornwall’s STP. But they don’t really tell us what they will remove to achieve the massive cuts the Conservatives are now imposing.
When we achieve the perhaps utopian effective and efficient NHS and care service which  

  • through a massively successful ill-health prevention strategy, massively cuts acute episodes and ill health
  • better cares for patients closer or in their own homes so that patients can be discharged from hospital much sooner than now
  • and reduce the number of emergencies and pressure for acute and secondary hospital beds

perhaps then we might consider mothballing or removing yet more hospital beds….

But only then. Not before these outcomes are achieved.
We can afford our NHS. If the Danes, Swedes, Germans and French can afford to spend more on their health services than we do without bankrupting their countries so can we.
Don’t believe the post truth naysayers.

Make a stand against this Government’s assault on our NHS.
With your continued support we can win this battle.

Andrew George

Truro 4th March 2017