People Demonstrate In Louth Against NHS Cuts
January 23rd 2017
More protestors arrived
Labour councillors promoting better NHS funding
Cllr Sarah Dodds
Keep the NHS working
Austerity is dangerous for NHS workers and patients
Julie Speed gave a speech
David Bolland spoke
In Louth people came together, motivated by a passion to protect the NHS and a love for this institution. Speeches were given, and placards were waved. Former county councillor David Bolland spoke about the fight twenty years ago to keep Louth hospital open, and about his experiences with healthcare. Louth town councillor Julie Speed spoke from the heart about her experiences and the stellar work local healthcare workers have done for her.
I also gave a speech explaining my reasons for being there, and what my greatest concerns are. The rest of this post is a slightly edited version of what I said, minus the jazz hands I do when I speak in public.
How many of us are only here today thanks to the work of the NHS?
Members of my own family wouldn't be alive. It's hard to say how many of them would have died, or would be in constant pain, without NHS help. I'm sure most people have similar stories of the work done to save friends and family or themselves.
Free at the point of use is a founding principle. I know of many Americans who worry constantly about affording health insurance. As a nation British people used to be able to be relaxed and smug, because we could tell them that Nye Bevan sorted out that out for us in 1948, and that we didn't have that anxiety. That was what civilisation looked like.
Except now the government seems determined to defund the NHS. Our local trust is £73 million in deficit. It will have to make £130 million of savings over the next five years.
The Red Cross recently declared that there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS. Ambulance response times in England are rising, with fewer Category A emergency patients reached within eight minutes. Public health funding for preventative schemes has been cut. A lack of resources for care in the community means people can't always leave hospital when they are well enough to.
Louth hospital is under threat of losing "community facilities", whatever that means, and having them merged with Skegness hospitals at a single site, according to proposals in the recent Sustainability and Transformation Plan. We need to keep our local facilities in this growing town.
All of these cuts add up to a service that is now under huge strain. What will it be like in years to come? This degradation is the first step towards full privatisation, an attempt to pretend public healthcare doesn't work. The government is not fooling us.
The people who work in the NHS are, in my experience, dedicated, hard-working, and brilliant. I have no complaints about the work they do. But there's only so much they can do in the face of relentless cuts. Central government must fund the NHS properly. People will die if they don't.
We need to save our NHS.
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