On Saturday the 22nd August over a thousand healthcare professionals will be protesting the government and attempting to educate the public about the value of and the dismantling of the NHS, because unless we do something drastic, it will soon be gone.
Myself and two rather inspiring and tirelessly hardworking colleagues are putting out a Crash Call from 12pm in Shepherds Bush Green- to try and resuscitate the NHS in the hearts and minds of the public, and call together campaign groups, staff, patients and lay people, through education and demonstration, to try to keep the NHS alive.
Too long has the government and certain media outlets’ agenda of NHS-bashing and staff demoralising gone on. Jeremy Hunts plan to ‘name and shame’ GPs, despite being physically and statistically impossible, was front page news.  Jeremy Hunt’s accusations that NHS consultants aren’t working seven days a week has been proven to be an outright lie, yet was reprinted, word for word, in several national newspapers.  The coalition Government was formed on a campaign promise of no front-line NHS reorganisations, and then once in power immediately embarked on the biggest, most damaging reorganisation in its 67 year history . This time around David Cameron beat the stand and said ‘the NHS is safe in our hands’  – while all the while it’s halfway out of his hands already.
If you don’t want a national publicly funded health service then that’s up to you. If you don’t want one of the cheapest  most efficient and equitable  systems in the developed world, while still managing to achieve some of the best outcomes  and put out cutting edge research , then that’s your decision.
But my suspicion is that it’s not a very informed decision. Whether you believe in the ideology of an NHS or not, the information and perception of the service put out by the government and the media is, unbeknownst to you, simply not true. All of the alternative comparable healthcare systems are more costly, more bureaucratic and less able or willing to care for the most vulnerable in our society.
Even if you do believe in a public health system, and might recognise the value of having, pound for pound, one of the best healthcare systems in the world, perhaps no one told you it’s being taken away- the service is being dismantled and belittled and kept in constant crisis.
No you say- a) the government has promised £8 billion extra funding over the next five years, and b) 5000 more GPs, c) seven-day opening times and d) greater safety in the service. Let’s look at that more closely.
A) The £8 billion is over five years, so that’s £1.6 billion extra cash per year. The predicted health funding required for the next five years is £30 billion short by 2020.  So every year the gap between NHS costs and NHS resource will grow, accumulating increasing underfunding, with a gap in the year 2020 alone predicted to be £30 billion, so £8 billion will not touch the sides.*
B) It takes 10 years to train a GP, 1 in 3 GPs are planning on retiring, closing or emigrating in the next five years  (approx 14,000 GPs), and 1/3 GP trainee spots are under-filled (2000 less new GPs total over the next 5 years). 2500 new GPs will qualify every year 2018-20 – so if GPs leaving at the rate now planned won’t be fully replaced, there will be 6500 LESS GPs than there are now.** So, the proposed 5000 extra GPs will actually need to be 11,500 GPs in order to be an expansion of the service, not a net loss. In short, if we have the SAME number of GPs we have today, we would be incredibly lucky, and more likely we will be thousands short. Meanwhile GP outcome has fallen for the past five years and the government is discussing cutting GP subsidy pay further.
C) Seven day working is already in place for all emergency work across the country  – while we are under-funding a system already at crisis point, perhaps it would be wise to try to stretch non-emergency services once there is the money to pay for it.
D) And the safety review board was about the only sensible and useful thing Jeremy Hunt has ever suggested.
What happened to democracy? Who voted for the collapsing of the NHS? It wasn’t on any campaign manifesto from any party, and yet here we are.
On Saturday over a thousand doctors, nurses, physios, OTs, medical students and other AHPs will be in Shepherd’s Bush Green in London from 12-4pm- teaching CPR to the public, talking to the public about the reality of the NHS and raising awareness that a great healthcare system is being dismantled with no democratic mandate to do so. There will be speakers and expert campaigners from many groups all fighting for the NHS. So whether you’re a lay person or a health professional, come along on Saturday- you might learn some vital skills that could save a life, and you will learn about the threats to the service and the staff saving lives everyday.
[7 ] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/263729/bis-13-1297-international-comparative-performance-of-the-UK-research-base-2013.pdf
CrashCallfortheNHS: A Day to Revive the NHS
* Even with the most extreme ‘efficiency savings’/cuts of £22 billion a year this gap will still be £8 billion pound in 2020, and the NHS will be cumulatively underfunded by an estimated £33 billion pounds. So this extra £1.6 billion won’t even scratch the surface.
We already spend far less on healthcare than any country in the G7 bar Italy, currently 9.1% GDP. If we spent, currently, as much as Germany (11.1% of GDP) in our equivalent economy the NHS budget would be £160 billion, and we wouldn’t be cutting services, public health and vulnerable adult budgets away to make it work.
**And where 5000 new GPs will come from, if they aren’t already in training, by 2020, no one has detailed – in fact it would be impossible for them to come from a UK training system, so will have to be recruited from abroad or other medical specialties (which would require 3 years training regardless)
[…] the NHS and getting away with it. On my birthday a month later I organised a group protest, a Crash Call for the NHS, to raise awareness. Since then we’ve been on the streets, on your televisions, […]