UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Happy Birthday NHS - Now what are we prepared to do?

#NHS65 Tonight Dave Prentis will celebrate our cherished NHS's 65th birthday at a rally in Manchester. We are rightly proud of our NHS but as it faces death by a thousand cuts, are there enough of us with Bevan's 'faith to fight for it'? As Polly Toynbee points out today: "How the NHS looks at 75 depends more on the future of politics than on economics".

Daily Mirror/Daybreak poll reveals that less than one in five people trust the Tories to preserve the NHS for future generations. 82% of people believe David Cameron has done nothing to help the NHS since he became Prime Minister. 41% say things have got worse. That is something to build on.

The challenge is to turn those views into real policial action to defend the NHS and build on it. That is not so easy as it looks. Let us not forget that the NHS came as a package. A package of health care, of tackling issues that affect health, like housing and poverty, and building a fair, just and compassionate welfare system. Try asking the public the same questions about benefits after the huge misinformation campaign by the Tories to demonise those most in need.

The fight to defend the founding principles of the NHS is now critical. The cuts and privatisation are designed to be embedded and hard to roll back. They are not just about money and profit for city pals. They are about undermining the whole principle of the NHS. Once the principles are undermined, they are more easily forgotten.

And remember, some of those principles were chipped away at by our own Labour government. They built the bridges for the Tories to march over, we recall someone saying at a UNISON Conference. We need a Labour Party (the only realistic alternative to the Tories) that really believes in the NHS and is prepared to defend it root and branch and kick out privatisation. One that has a vision for building our NHS, not just making it less bad. So there is a hint as to where our fight to defend the NHS might start.

Uniting around that vision of our NHS is the only way we can mobilise the millions who treasure the NHS to actually do something about it in the workplaces, on the streets and at the ballot box.

We need to ask why the NHS cannot be sustained today when the UK was able to create it when the country was bankrupt in the immediate aftermath of the second world war. And the answer is that it is not about money. It is about belief in the founding principles of our NHS. An NHS that will 'last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it'.

NOTE: Dave Prentis will speak at the North West TUC Rally tonight at 7pm in Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square.