Alongside fellow Reading Labour members, including a strong young Labour presence I joined the Emergency NHS march yesterday. In some ways it was uplifting because of the unity of the campaigners, the solidarity and our belief in the NHS.
But it was also saddening that of all the things that we could be marching for we were marching for something that – as Jonathan Ashworth MP said in his speech – virtually everyone in Britain can unite behind.
The reason being that the Conservative government pays lip-service to the principles of the NHS but hidden behind an alphabet soup of acronyms they are quietly privatising it.
Here in Reading we have the worrying prospect of being a so-called ‘exemplar’ area for the introduction of an Accountable Care System. In principle this idea appears attractive – the idea of working together across different parts of the NHS of course has wide support.
However – while we know that local doctors, nurses and other NHS workers are doing their best to work out how to deliver the best care they can – the reality is that Accountable care systems are required to deliver the huge cuts that the government is imposing and
In addition, there a very real danger that this may make it easier for the government to parcel up our local health service to sell it off – this has already happened in Nottinghamshire as I’ve blogged about before
All of this means we must all – whatever our political views redouble our efforts more than ever to make sure that the government knows that they won’t get away with this.
I will continue to use my role on Reading’s Health and Wellbeing board to ask questions and get information into the public domain and to support those in our NHS who are trying valiantly to keep to the founding principles of the NHS – free at the point of use, for all who need it..
I also know that Reading residents will remain determined to fight for our NHS and I’ll work with anyone who is willing to campaign: whether marching on the streets, going door to door or online to protect our greatest national treasure.