NHS Campaigning - Practical Tips
You’ve seen a few stories about the NHS in the news? You’ve watched Sell Off? You’ve read a few articles on [Open Democracy] (www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs)?
Now you want to do something. The NHS isn’t going to save itself. The question is what? Its not an easy one to answer. The following post is aimed at provoking some discussion about areas you could look at.
The Health and Social Care Act (2012) looms large over everything NHS related. Any attempt to save and improve our National Health Service will require this damaging legislation to be scrapped and replaced with something fit for purpose.
Written by Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderic the NHS Reinstatement Bill (2015) attempts to correct the errors of not just the Health and Social Care Act but the last 30 years of marketisation within the NHS.
The Reinstatement Bill has been supported by a coalition of Green Party, SNP, Plaid, MPs together with a single Liberal Democrat backbencher and a couple of Labour Party ones.
The campaign in support of the bill is asking people to get in touch with their MPs directly to encourage them to sign up to support the bill. More info can be found on their website.
The Labour Party #
Regardless of your opinion of the Labour Party, they are going to be crucial to the future of the NHS. A Conservative led government will weaken the NHS to breaking point and continue the work done in this parliament to bring it to its knees.
Whoever you vote for in the upcoming election it is important that we put pressure on Labour to carry out their pre-election promises and demand they go further to safeguard our NHS.
There is a large amount of dissatisfaction with Labour. A lot of this is justified. We must hope for a Labour led government and then campaign for them to rebuild our NHS, remove the market and end the crippling PFI debt. Even if your not a member or supporter of the Labour Party, it is still possible to influence their decision making.
Whether its at a hustings, a political meeting or in your local MPs surgery you can have your say to let them know what you want your elected representatives to carry out in office. If you don’t agree with their policies tell them why!
[The Labour NHS Lobby is a good example of this kind of ethos in practice.] (labournhslobby.wordpress.com)
The Trade Union Movement #
At some point you will be a worker. The trade union movement is your collective representative on a larger scale. Most have done some NHS campaigning, but it hasn’t been enough. The trade unions which are affilited to the Labour Party have not used this link to push the Labour Party to have better policy on the NHS.
Trade Unions can be a great place to meet other activists, find out about local campaigns and give your voice weight. It is never to early to get involved in trade union work. They all have young members sections and if you are a student on a health related course their will be a trade union for you to join.
Local Campaigns #
One of the best ways to feel like your action is having a meaningful impact is through a local campaign. It is here that the damaging impacts of cuts, privatisation and closures are being felt.
The way that the changes and difficulties the NHS is facing are impacting on local services is different in each area. This means that for this kind of work you really need to get to know what’s going on where you are. A great place to start for this would be organisations like Keep Our NHS Public, or the 999 Campaign for the NHS.
Examples of the great work that is going on at a local level can be found in Lewisham, and the East End of London.
In Summary #
- The NHS Reinstatement Bill (2015) provides a legislative framework for NHS campaigning.
- We need to have a fight with the Labour Party, whether you are inside it or not.
- Joining your trade union gives you greater voice and allows you to tap into the experience and power of organised workers.
- Act local, this is where you will feel the most benefit.