The protest march against privatisation of health services in England, started three weeks ago from South Tyneside, ended saturday at Trafalgar Square. With the partecipation of 5,000 people, who take part in the last leg from Holborn, the demonstration warn about dangers of privatising the health service.
The ideas was inspired by the 1936 Jarrow march, a protest against unemployment and extreme poverty suffered in North East England during the Great Depression. The shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham speak at the end of the event in Trafalgar Square to explain dangers about NHS.
Currently just under 6 per cent of the NHS budget goes to private companies, which are paid with public money to provide care that is free at the point of use. With its overall budget of £113bn this year, met by the taxpayer, the NHS remains overwhelmingly public. However, the amount of money going to private companies has more than doubled since 2007, and current trends indicate it will carry on growing.
The Indipendent report that Ken Loach – film maker who joined the marchers in St Albans – said campaigners saw little difference between whole sale privatisation and the current, more incremental process. “The sub-contracting of operations and treatments to private companies means private companies are making money out of our health budget. To me, that is privatisation,” he said.
“Privatisation isn’t only paying for the treatment you get when you receive it. It’s also our collective wealth going to private companies to provide healthcare, when all the evidence shows that a publicly funded, publicly managed health service is much more efficient.”
March founder Joanna Adams said: “It’s been magic really. You only have to look over there [at the protesters gathered] to see people are behind the NHS and support what we’re saying. Profit has no place in public health.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Use of the private sector in the NHS represents only 6% of the total NHS budget – an increase of just 1% since May 2010.
“Charities, social enterprises and other healthcare providers continue to play an important role for the NHS, as they have done for many years – however, it is now local doctors and nurses who make decisions about who is best placed to provide care for their patients.”
INSIDE THE MOVEMENT – But not all the partecipants enjoy the presence of the New Labour shadow cabinet: “I went to this event today but left as soon as Andy Burnham got up with his pre-election lies – said Luoise Islam on a group about the NHS March -. I want to say to the organisers of this event, what possessed you to invite ANY of the New Labour shadow cabinet to speak. It never ceases to amaze me every time this happens. I listened with disgust to the first minute of Burnham’s weasel speech, the same he made at the TUC meeting over 2 years ago in Westminster Central Hall saying how he is going to repeal the NHS Act, and again suffered the sycophantic applause and cheering, which punctuated every sentence uttered, from the sheep mentality of all those who attended! I started expressing my disgust to all around me, as I was so angry as to how inviting New Labour in is killing off the people’s resistance. However, people just looked back at me, switched off. I have seen this happen with the Bedroom tax, with the fight to protect Legal Aid etc.. I see the same New Labour shadow ministers who did a lot of damage in those very same areas when they were part of the Labour Govt! Have you forgotten it was Andy Burnham that introduced PFI in the first place! What madness is this! You are selling the NHS right out if you continue this road, in fact you are selling out the people of Britain out full stop! Don’t you know that New Labour want to muscle in on every fight we try to do because with their false pre-election speeches they aim to kill off the people’s resistance. Or they are invited in (they don’t need to muscle in, perhaps)! As long as you continue in this very same vein, don’t anyone invite me again, I don’t like having my time wasted listening to New Labour lies. I feel sorry for the people from Jarrow who had to suffer the lies! I am not coming to your national demo 18.10.14 either. Not to listen to New Labour lies, listen to overpaid Trade Union Leader stooges who are there to support the status quo. Unless you grow a backbone and make this a grass roots peoples fight only, I don’t want to know you!”