More than 100,000 people marched across the country, to ‘save the NHS’ this weekend, with more than 60,000 protesters in London alone.
Organised by Health Campaigns Together and The People’s Assembly, the event saw protesters and organisations such as Unison, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Unite the union, call for NHS England to be adequately funded.
The Pharmacist contacted the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for comment.
NHS in crisis
Speaking at the event, Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that ‘we have to bring an end to the eight years of austerity underfunding of the NHS’.
He continued: ‘It means bringing an end to the cuts to the community health provision, mental health services, child and adolescent health services and social care services.
‘It also means ending the flow of tax payers’ money and public money flowing out of the NHS to the private sector.’
Protesters blamed the Government’s decision to bring in private investors in the NHS, mentioning private finance initiative (PFI) hospital schemes and companies including Carillon and Virgin Care.
Latest data from the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that there are currently more than 700 operational PFI and PF2 deals, with annual charges for these deals that amounted to £10.bn in 2016-17.
The NAO said that ‘even if no new deals are entered into, future charges, which continue until the 2040s, amount to £199bn.
A spokesperson for Unison said that ‘the amount of money that could have gone to staff pay rises has gone into the pocket of private share holders’.
They said: ‘We’ve seen Carillon collapse and are looking at possibly Capita to follow.
‘We’ve seen private equities strangling social care and all the time the Government caries on with its policy, the latest being NHS Trusts breaking up services and putting them into private companies, they can take advantage of the tax dodge and cut terms and conditions.
‘This can’t go on and Unison will fight every step of the way. We have to fight for the NHS, which needs our assistance.’
Mr Ashworth added: ‘If from the rumble, carnage and despair of the 1940s they could build a national health service, from funded by general taxation and not insurance schemes to cover every man, woman and child irrespective of their needs, then 70 years later when we’re one of the richest countries in the world, we can fund the NHS today.’
The next demonstration for the NHS will take place on 30 June.
Picture credit: John Lister Health Campaigns Together