An open letter to the British public
How to save the NHS? Stand together to protect it - Dr Rob Galloway
I am writing for your help in trying to stop the unprecedented damage happening to the NHS. Please read, share, like, tweet and tell your friends.
As someone who has the privilege of working for the NHS as an A&E doctor, I see first hand what is happening. Please trust the real doctors and not the spin-doctors.
The NHS is on its knees and unless things change, it may not survive. It has been attacked; part privatised, demoralised and starved of funds
Things are getting worse and the NHS, which we all care so much about, may soon no longer be able to care for us.
The NHS is important to us all. If we get sick we will be looked after and it is there for everybody in our society, but we cannot take it for granted. Government policy is pushing the NHS beyond safe limits. The risks to patients and staff are real.
We now face a choice, similar to that faced by the generation who started the NHS on July 5th 1948.
After the horror and uncertainty of World War Two the British public decided they no longer wanted to accept a society where the rich could buy care, but the poor were left to suffer. The NHS was born in a period of great austerity, but money was found because health and welfare was made a priority above all else.
A letter was sent through the door of every citizen. The opening lines were:
“It will provide you with all medical, dental and nursing care. Everyone - rich or poor, man, woman or child - can use any part of it. “
This promise is one we may soon not be able to keep.
The post war generation decided that healthcare was worth investing in and the cost should be shared through the tax system. We must do the same and give the NHS the funds it needs. The alternative is to allow the NHS to wither and for people to go without the care they need.
From the start the ethos of the NHS made it great; services working together and putting patients first. But the last few years has seen a determined effort to undermine many of its essential qualities.
The government has wasted billions on re-organisations and pointless competition. It has underfunded the NHS and allow money to be diverted to companies to profit from treating NHS patients, all of which has destabilised the hospitals and services we all use.
Despite this, the NHS kept going because of the skills and commitment of its staff. Now by attacking NHS staff they are endangering the future of the service.
The new contracts they are proposing for junior doctors will mean an exodus of doctors from the NHS. Without these doctors, standards of care will fall, waits will rise and patients will die.
They have said this about a 7 day working. That is just not true. The new contract will harm 7 day working. How do you improve care at weekends if you stop incentivising people to work in jobs with lots of out of hours work by saying evenings and Saturdays are normal working hours?
They have also manipulated facts by saying there will be an 11% pay rise. Junior Doctors salaries have a large component made up of supplements because they work so many nights, weekends and evenings. If you cut these payments by more than the amount they are getting in a basic pay rise – this is actually a pay cut.
NHS staff need your help to get the truth out about what’s happening and to protect our NHS.
Public opinion matters. There may well be a strike by junior doctors. During the strike consultants like me will be doing what we can to make things safe. No one wants the strike – especially not the doctors. They have said they will negotiate with the government as long as the government say they will not impose a contract. That is fair – but the government refuses to move and must take responsibility if the strike happens.
But it is bigger than just this issue. We as a society must think about our priorities. Do we starve the NHS of resources whilst having tax cuts for millionaires and multinational businesses?
Do we protect the interests of bankers and speculators who have harmed this country so much or do we value and reward the doctors and nurses who heal the country?
We must start to fight back. Do what ever you can to let people know what is happening. Campaign on the street, in pubs and at the ballot box. Write to your MP, join marches and join groups such as the NHS Support Federation (www.nhscampaign.org).
Remember what Nye Bevan said on the day the NHS was founded. The NHS will last as long at there are the folk with the with faith to fight for it. We as members of the British public need to have the faith and we need to fight for it.
If we don't, the NHS, which our grandparents so proudly formed, will no longer be there for our children. They may never forgive us.
Dr Rob Galloway, A&E Consultant
"NHS staff need your help to get the truth out about what’s happening and to protect our NHS."