To mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS, Hastings and Rother campaigners launched a local branch of the national Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) campaign by singing Happy Birthday outside the Hastings Station Plaza walk-in centre.
KONP supports campaigns to reverse the privatisation and commercialisation of social care and calls for health and social care services to be publicly funded and provided and for accountable provision.
Founder member and UNISON member Jonathan Lee said: “The group was formed to campaign against the underfunding and privatisation of the NHS and social care, both locally and nationally. It isn’t affiliated to any political party but it will initiate and support campaigns to stop the erosion of our NHS services.”
The launch event on Sunday afternoon was intentionally kept small and short and attendees were asked to wear masks and keep socially distanced. There were short announcements from Jonathan Lee, Hastings Borough Councillor Leah Levane and local resident Danuta Kean who said: “I grew up in a suburb of Manchester where my local hospital, Park Hospital, was a daily reminder of the power and place of the NHS in the life of the nation.
“Now named Trafford General, the hospital is where Bevan launched the NHS in 1948 and it had cared for every member of my family at some point – including my sister with a smashed leg after a car accident and my father as he lay dying of cancer. I saw in there the dedication of the NHS to the whole nation, not just those who could afford healthcare.
“The best illustration of the value of the NHS is that within a year of its launch maternal and infant mortality dropped like a stone.
“Coronavirus has brought home to us how much we value the NHS, it’s being free at the point of need, inclusive and expansive in what it offers. It has also reminded us of how this government has systematically undermined it over the last ten years thanks to back-door privatisation and under-funding, especially in the areas of mental health services.
“We need to fight its privatisation. We need to ensure that in the post-Brexit-post-Covid-19 world the government does not sell off this family jewel that has sustained the lives of the nation. We need to get out on the streets and protest, not just clap for carers, but march in solidarity with those who work under increasingly stressful circumstances to deliver the vision Bevan had when he opened Park Hospital 72 years ago.”
The launch event was followed by an online rally which can be watched via a Facebook link.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Keep Our NHS Public: Hastings and Rother group you can visit the KONP: Hastings and Rother Facebook page.
The inaugural meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams next Monday (July 13th) at 7pm. Local residents who would like to get actively involved in the campaign are encouraged to attend.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a link to join the meeting, and for further information about the group.