15 November 2016

Matthew Snedker speaks at the Footprints March for the NHS

Darlington Green Party are proud to support the Footprints March for the NHS. Local party Coordinator Matthew Snedker was invited to make a speech:

"The NHS in England is being dismantled. The Green Party are clear that only a change to the law can reverse the damage.

The NHS we love is facing an existential threat. The creeping privatisation of the last quarter of a century has introduced fragmentation and the inefficiencies this brings into our health service.

Thousands of us have contacted our MPs asking them to support the NHS Reinstatement Bill. This is making a difference.

After a disappointing attempt on 11th March, when insufficient opposition MPs attended, the NHS Reinstatement Bill was successfully presented in the House of Commons on 13th July 2016.

A second reading is scheduled for 4th November 2016.

The National Health Service has been one of the UK’s greatest achievements. For 65 years it has provided a cost effective, universal health service, free at the point of need to all people irrespective of their background, circumstance or ability to pay.

Yet over the last 25 years, this founding vision has been slowly but surely eroded. The savage attack on our treasured NHS started in earnest with the Community Health Standards Act 2003. Now, money was spent on the NHS but tragically, the use of PFI contracts means that we got £11.5 billion worth of buildings at the cost of £80 billion - something to think about when we hear of trusts running deficits.

Some nine years and a change of government later, the final blow was the Health and Social Care Act 2012, forcing a commercialised model on the NHS in England.

The perilous state of the NHS was brought into focus by a World Health Organisation report in March this year. It found that due to the increasing financing and provision of healthcare by non-governmental actors, England can no longer lay claim to have a nationalised heathcare system.

And yet, the NHS keeps going, people are still being cared for put back together and cured. My time spent on the picket line with junior doctors was a real eye opener for me. The told me first hand accounts of the perverse consequences of the internal market, how financial priorities are shaping and changing clinical decisions. Those junior doctors weren’t on strike because they wanted more money in their pockets, no! These wonderful people were on the picket line because they know the consequences of trying to run a 7 day service on 5 day’s money. We believe that campaigning to reinstate the founding vision is critical.

We must stop our NHS being whittled down to little more than a corporate logo. The public service we love is being dismantled and defined by bidding wars and market structures that waste billions which should be spent on patient care.

Our public health service should be run with patients, not profit, at its heart. Its rescue package must be rigorous and comprehensive to fully protect it from the private sector.

And it’s worth taking time to consider what the alternative to a national health service is:

Hospitals in private hands, providers all in the private sector, in short, a business sector where illness is managed for profit.

A business where treatment is decided not on the level of need, but on the ability to pay.

Where most families are just one major illness or injury away from personal bankruptcy.

The NHS is a core part of our national identity but as things stand, it’s under immediate and growing threat. What the founders of our NHS achieved was radical and far-reaching and we have a duty to ensure that we reinstate their vision of an NHS that is publicly commissioned, publicly owned and publicly run.

This achievement is front and centre of the Green Party’s vision and we will work with anyone who is willing to fight to restore an NHS that will last for generations to come."