England says No … so what do we do to step up the fight?
Speaking at the beginning of the opening rally as the Our NHS march assembled, Health Campaigns Together editor JOHN LISTER was first on the platform.
Here’s the full text of his speech on the way forward for the campaign
On behalf of Health Campaigns Together I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard for this: the demonstration committee, Peoples Assembly, Unite the union, the PCS and all the unions that have donated generously to make it happen.
This march is a declaration that from Devon to Carlisle, Sunderland to the Isle of Wight, Ipswich to Bristol and everywhere in the middle … ENGLAND says NO to Tory cuts, closures and privatisation in Our NHS.
And to judge from delegations joining us today, Northern Ireland and Scotland also say NO to cuts and privatisation.
Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is reported saying he wants more cuts in the Budget next week.
We say No. No to endless cuts in social care. No to the cash freeze … and no to the NHS pay freeze!
We want to go forward to the 2020s, not back to the dark days of the 1980s!
This march must not be an end, but a beginning. Of course we know that on its own it won’t get us what we want.
It’s a beginning. What else must we do?
We need a bigger, stronger, broader united campaign, to fight on till we win.
I have a dream - that all the national unions who backed this demo today, the TUC, the local unions, … the National Pensioners Convention, Labour and other political parties now commit to join with Health Campaigns Together in common cause … to build a movement in defence of the NHS that is big enough and strong enough to bully the Tories and force them to back down.
A movement that builds support in every town and city, every village and community, in Universities and colleges, workplaces and social clubs.
A movement that can pile pressure on each CCG, every trust, every council, councillor and MP.
Already some Tory councils and some MPs are grumbling. That’s good.
Theresa May is no Margaret Thatcher.
Her party is divided. She is unelected. The situation is unstable.
Let’s destabilise it more. Let’s make them change course.
Health Campaigns Together launched this demo and now we thank you for your support and urge everyone here to go on supporting us as we fight to make this movement even stronger across the country.
You can get affiliated, buy our newspaper, donate or just follow our website.
Anything you can do will help: … but please don’t go home and do nothing.
Join the resistance! It’s urgent to fight NOW for our NHS. We can’t wait till the 2020 election.
This really is a matter of life or death.
It’s OUR NHS! Let’s keep it alive, keep it public, and protect it from Maggie May.
Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
The NHS has provided universal healthcare, free at the point of need, and funded through general taxation, a model that is as cost-effective, efficient, and visionary now as it was when it was founded in 1948. The NHS has also provided freedom from the crippling fear of the cost of injury and ill-health, and security for the healthcare of infants, children and the most vulnerable in our society. All this is now under threat.
The 4 March rally is a public cry of despair. UK health services need investment; they also need sound management and strong effective leadership, not the abrogation of responsibility and waste of public funds that have been incurred through the internal and widening external markets, Private Finance Initiative repayments, and poor decision-making at multiple levels.
The unhappy and growing tendency to regard healthcare as a commodity is not serving the people of the UK well. Markets tend to view disparagingly and not support investment that takes a long time to mature, such as that needed to progressively strengthen population health. The consequences of this shallow, short-sighted view are plain for all to see: a lost opportunity to build solid economic prosperity and national resilience built upon health. This is why the RCPCH is calling for cross party commitment to a publicly funded, delivered, and accountable health and care system as the essential starting point upon which to make UK health services once again the envy of the world.
Save Lewisham Hospital campaigner Vicky Penner compiled this list of national press coverage, in addition to a vast swathe of local press coverage from around the country.
As she says: "Please tweet, post and share as needed. Brilliant day! ??"