Labour Party Open Meeting – Monday 3 June 2019
60 people were at the Phoenix Centre to debate
Our health-in whose hands?
Lewes Labour Open meetings hosted a packed meeting to hear Tony O’Sullivan, a retired consultant and chair of Keep our NHS Public and Bob Gill a GP and producer of the film, The Great NHS Heist explain what is happening to our NHS.
‘The founding principle of the NHS was that a public service is the most efficient way to provide health care to a population’ said Bob Gill ‘In 1945 5% of the budget went on administration, now its 15%’ he added. Tony O’Sullivan described the funding crisis. ‘In 2018 the government claimed the best ever funding settlement for the NHS with a 4% increase when it has actually been underfunded by 30% since 2010. This explains the growing waiting lists, the crisis in A&E, GPs with massively increased caseloads and the haemorrhaging of doctors and nursing staff’. Tony O’Sullivan went on to explain that although local clinical commissioning groups currently only spend 7% on private services, the official statistic masks the huge amounts being repaid to companies through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
Bob Gill described the issues for GPs where out of hours services had already been privatised, it was rare for a patient to see the same GP and therefore ’know’ their patients, receptionists are increasingly acting as gatekeepers and a qualified workforce being replaced by Health Care Professionals. ‘Do you know that the UK has the lowest number of GPs per head of population compared with all other developed countries? he declared. ‘The issue is not one of who is better off running our health services but the public funds that are now increasing shareholders income rather than being ploughed back into improved care’ he said. Its no mistake that Donald Trump put the NHS on his trading table. It’s a huge prize for big US businesses’ he commented.
Local activists explained the problems when the Sussex ambulance service was given to a private company who had no experience of patient transport. A gas repair vehicle picked up a patient for dialysis because they were an ‘approved provider’. They eventually lost the contract but after being well compensated. Our local Lewes Victoria hospital is being viewed as a potential site for property developers and has only been saved by local campaigning.
All the speakers were keen to emphasise that local action and well-informed campaigning can save local and national services and encouraged those present to get involved.