South Tyneside hospital campaigners join others to create giant heart message in the sand as part of SOS-NHS day of action
Health campaigners created a moving message in the sand as they united behind the NHS.
Members of the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign (SSTHC) joined the Sunderland District Branch of Keep Our NHS Public, trade union members, NHS staff and members of the public taking part in the SOS-NHS National Day of Action.
Campaigners sculpted out a heart-shaped SOS-NHS message in the sands at Seaburn Beach and encircled it with a human chain to highlight what they say are the heartfelt concerns over a crisis facing the NHS.
They fear the Health and Care Bill going through Parliament will fail to address any of the urgent problems facing the NHS.
Dr Pam Wortley, chairwoman of Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), was among the speakers at the event on Saturday, February 27, which formed part of a national day of action.
She said: “The many people who have joined us today have formed a human chain around the sand sculptured heart on our beautiful Seaburn Beach.
"We are all here to express the love for our wonderful NHS – a service that is here for everyone whenever it’s needed.
"We do not want to see our service privatised and sold off to American companies; we do not want to follow the American route where millions of people who are unable to pay get absolutely no care or are forced into bankruptcy.
"We can afford to pay for it – there’s always plenty of money for war. So, this privatisation is a government choice but it’s not our choice.
She added: "We love our NHS and want it to be there for our children and our grandchildren in perpetuity. Healthcare is a human right and we urge everyone to join KONP and fight to defend our NHS.”
The event was part of a national day of action marked around the country.
Laura Murrell, secretary of Sunderland KONP, said: “SOS-NHS is a new coalition of over 40 organisations including NHS campaign groups; health and social care staff; trade unions; Covid -19 bereaved families; and the pensioners convention.
"We want to build a mass campaign movement and strong coalition with the wider community to bring about a u-turn in the proposed direction for our NHS which will lead to the end of a universal National Health Service, set up a post code lottery for care, and increase the involvement of the private sector.
"There is a £35billion financial gap in the NHS finances and our demand is for emergency funding of £20billion pounds to start to rebuild our NHS and return it to the universal comprehensive public health care service it embodied when first established.”
The NHS was created in 1948 to provide a comprehensive health care service with access to healthcare based on need.
Campaigners on Saturday said it was the ‘very essence of a caring society’ – but the ‘fundamental founding principle is now under threat’, with the Government pushing ahead with a major structural change they say will allow private companies to sit on new boards and make decisions about what health services will be provided.
They added that the Health and Care Bill will make ‘years of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation far worse’ at a time when the NHS is fighting back from the enormous pressures of the covid pandemic.
Responding nationally to the day of action, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are grateful to our hard-working NHS staff for keeping services running and seeing thousands of people a day last month.
“We have set out our plan to tackle the Covid-19 backlog and deliver long term reform, backed by our record investment of £8billion over the next three years.
“This is on top of £2billion to recover from the pandemic this year and an extra £5.9billion of capital funding to support recovery, diagnostics and technology over the next three years.”