Saturday 30th June 2018

National March and Rally for #OurNHS70

The 70th anniversary of our NHS

SSTHC members marching for our NHS...
70 years after its creation...
30 years into the process of dismantling it!

n June 30th, tens of thousands took part in a national march and rally in London for the Health Campaigns Together celebration and demonstration #OurNHS70.

A big thank you to all those who braved the heat and took our banners to join other NHS campaign groups at this national demonstration in London. We were part of a North East contingent, and travelled by coach together with members of KONP North East and the North East Peoples Assembly. We had our Save South Tyneside Hospital Campaign banner and the Sunderland KONP banner. We marched from Portland Place to Whitehall for a rally, where thousands took a stand on this 70th anniversary of the NHS to speak out in defence of the NHS and the right to health care. Well done to all!

It was great to see the 'No to WWL Solutions' banner carried (not very far from our own banner) by workers and campaigners from Lancashire, who are fighting to stop their jobs being transferred out of the NHS and into a private company. See Wigan hospital staff vote for strike over outsourcing plans.

This article had previously linked to a third-party YouTube video covering the ~16 minute speech made by Jeremy Corbyn at the rally. Unfortunately that video has been removed from YouTube. We managed to capture the first 5 minutes of his speech before our video camera battery failed. Below is that footage along with a transcription:

Happy Birthday National Health Service. 70 years ago today. Can we say a massive thank you to all those who over all those years have worked so hard in our National Health Service to keep us all safe from whatever part of this world or this country they have come from, they've made the effort, and thank you especially to the wind-rush generation for their work as well.

The NHS was a creation of Aneurin Bevan and the post-war Labour government, but the inspiration came from the mining communities in South Wales... It came from a belief in working class communities, that they deserve the very best that health care could provide, knowing full well that at that time they never got it. Nye Bevan was very clear that there should be a National Health Service with national standards, equally provided for the whole country.

There are many people here today who have campaigned very very hard for the National Health Service, and tried to stop cuts taking place and tried to stop the destruction of our services. But can I say today a special salute to those from the Wrightington [Wigan] and Leigh Campaign stopping the privatisation of their jobs and their services, and congratulation to Unison and Unite members for the work that their doing.

If I could be allowed to say something locally because it is of great significance, I want to say thank you to the Defend the Whittington Hospital Health Campaign for (some years ago) preventing the closure of the A&E, and thus the continuation of the hospital - and just winning [another] campaign now when the hospital wanted to outsource all of its building management and building construction to a private company called Ryhurst Associated. On Thursday we got the news, they've retreated, it's all staying public.

All of what our campaigns say and do all over the country is [defend] the principle that the National Health Service is there for us, for all time, and free at the point of use. When the Original NHS Act was introduced in 1946 - it's quite an amazing document - because it describes in paragraph one that health care has to be hospital, has to be doctors, has to be social care, has to be public health, has to be mental health, and has to have regard for the social conditions under which people are living. Paragraph two makes it clear that the NHS shall be free at the point of use for everyone for all time. To me it is socialism in action.

There have been huge attacks on our NHS over many years. The Tories voted against the original legislation and have always sought to privatise and continue the Internal Market [introduced in 1990]. So we now have an utterly ridiculous situation where the NHS, when it refuses to hand out a contract to the private sector, then gets sued for the loss of a contract that was never awarded as a way of compensation for [the private company], and that money then goes into the hands of those who are trying to rip-off our NHS. Money has been paid out to Virgin Health and many others, the cost of this is huge. There is also a principle involved - paying money out to private health contractors, the profits of which could and sometimes do end up in tax-havens.


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