Tuesday 10 January 2012

Transcript of Bevan's Run speech

Transcript of speech at start of Bevan's Run, Cardiff (Jan 10th, 2012)

“Nye Bevan’s original vision for the NHS was that all citizens should be protected from illness and pain, so that even the most disadvantaged in society would have “freedom from fear”. We cannot prevent the fear people feel when they actually fall ill, but we can prevent the fear of being unable to afford care and get access to care, by providing a comprehensive health service, free at the point of delivery, to all. This is what the NHS is all about and this is what needs protecting. It is the glue that holds our society together.

The Health and Social Care Bill will bring the fear back because its long term goal is to provide a minimal safety net rather than a comprehensive care service. That is why Lord Owen has called this bill, “the Secretary of State Abdication bill”. Mr Lansley wants to remove the duties and powers of the Secretary of State to provide a comprehensive health service to all citizens. This is a key reason why he needs new legislation to achieve his aims.

The bill will lead to increasing privatisation and commercialisation of healthcare provision which will create a fragmented and expensive service where money that could have been spent on frontline care will be funnelled into the pockets of private shareholders. The bill will undermine the public service ethos, erode medical professionalism, and damage the social contract of the doctor- patient relationship. It will lead us to a mixed funding system of healthcare with increasing co-payments, more user charges in the next parliament, and a growing healthcare insurance market, which will result in an inequitable service, based on a US managed care model, where the poorest and most vulnerable people in society who need most care, will get the least access.

The Health and Social Care Bill has no democratic mandate, it lacks any sound evidence base, it is ideologically driven, it is highly unpopular with the majority of healthcare professionals (most notably GPs), and it undermines the founding principles of the NHS, which is the most popular institution in Britain. It is an affront to the citizens of the UK.
Despite this, the coalition Government has ignored calls from the medical profession to withdraw this destructive bill. The underlying principles of the NHS are therefore under severe threat as the bill gets closer to being enacted by Royal Ascent.
The complexity of the bill, the misleading spin by the Government, the lack of health policy expertise in the national media, the problems faced by New Labour of being an effective opposing force, and most importantly the nature of the coalition, which gives the Government a majority on both Houses of Parliament, has allowed this flawed and dangerous bill to get so close to being enacted.

Our greatest and most popular national institution is being stolen away from under our noses.

As co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association, which actively supports and promotes Bevan’s idea of a publicly funded, publicly delivered, publicly accountable NHS, and someone who is proud and privileged to work in the NHS, there was no question that I would ignore the motto of the NHSCA, which is Bevan's famous quote about the NHS:

"it will last as long as there folk left with the faith to fight for it."
Hence, in the memory of Aneurin Bevan, myself and Dr David Wilson, a fellow member of the NHSCA, will be carrying and posting 3 signed "Bevan's postcards" to David Cameron's constituency office in Witney and Number 10 Downing Street; and Andrew Lansley in the Department of Health.

We will not let the coalition Government steal the NHS from the nation without a fight.

Thank you for your support.”

Clive Peedell and David Wilson

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