Speech at Newham Save Our Services - March and Rally - 05/07/2014

My name is Peter Campbell. I am a doctor, a socialist and proud supporter of the Save Our Surgeries Campaign. I believe one of the most impressive things that Save Our Surgeries has been able to accomplish is how it has brought together healthcare workers and patients to fight together for the same cause.

Because the media and the government are trying to put a wedge between healthcare workers and patients. Every day we see negative news stories about the NHS, even some about patients. Often these are about patients using the service inappropriately. That doesn’t sound like giving patients choice to me.

It is so important that we stand together, because long after this government with its reforms and its cuts is gone. We will still need to be working together for the health of the nation. It is fantastic to see Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney leading the way.

I’ve only been a doctor for a few weeks. If when I started medical school you had told me I would be standing outside Stratford station desperately trying to catch the attention of Westfield Shoppers, I don’t think I would have believed you.

Over the past 18 months, I have spent time in 3 different GP Practices, 4 hospitals and spoken to hundreds of healthcare workers. The overriding feeling is one of constant pressure. Pressure to do more, faster, cheaper. Often the patient gets left behind.

Our health service is at breaking point. The combined impact of cuts, reorganisations and privatisation have left us with a demoralised workforce and patients unwilling to trust the motives of their doctors.

Today, the people of Newham are pushing back against this tide of negativity. The changes to your GP services are part of a wider attempt to undermine and destabilise the NHS. The purpose is clear, to sell if off to the highest bidder. The attacks on the NHS are part of a wider attempt to undermine and destabilise the Welfare State. Attacks on the disabled, migrants, the unemployed and the young are cutting the Welfare State to the bone.

Today’s campaign is about GP services in Newham, but it is part of a wider movement to decide the type of country we want to live in. One that cares for the poor, sick and infirm, or one that only cares if they have the ability to pay.

I just want to finish on this.

This week I have spent time supporting the Ritzy Cinema workers, who strike tomorrow in Brixton for a living wage. Listening to the story of the Focus E15 Women and their fight for affordable decent housing in Newham and with patients and doctors from Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney fighting to defend their GP Surgeries. Health, Housing and a Living Wage. Sounds like 3 very sensible demands to me.


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