Listen to our debate on the future of the NHS and healthcare

On 24 March, WCB ran the second of a series of Zoom Q&A events on hot political and socio-economic topics.

In the wake of the publication of the Government’s white paper on the future of health and social care, the sale of GP practices to a US healthcare provider, privatisation of test and trace, the NHS pay ‘award’, the post-Brexit pressures to open up the NHS further to privatisation and the words of Sir John Major about the NHS being about as safe with this government as a hamster with a hungry python, we got people together to talk about the future for healthcare in the UK.

We were joined by Dr Sarah Wollaston, GP, former MP and Chair of the Health Select Committee; Helen Beetham, researcher, writer and campaigner with Save our Hospital Services (SOHS) and Public Matters; Dr Ben Hall, Higher Trainee General Adult Psychiatry; Dr Finola O’Neill, GP in North Devon and ex A&E doctor; and Sue Matthews, former NHS nurse (for 20+ years) and campaigner for SOHS. The evening took the form of an introductory talk and then focused on questions and contributions from the attendees.

You can listen to a recording here:

We will be distilling the excellent chat thread and publishing that in the next few days. In the meantime, here are some key takeaways:

  1. The White Paper must be paused. The last thing healthcare services need is yet another reorganisation in the middle of the most significant health crisis in our lifetimes
  2. There must be a plan for the workforce, especially given (Covid-related) unprecedented levels of stress and mental ill health, which will have consequences for staffing and recruitment for years to come.
  3. There must be more consultation on change at all levels and an end to the blanket application of urban-oriented models to rural areas. Tell your MP and local politicians what your community needs.
  4. Draw people’s attention to the fact that outsourced Serco test and Trace has been a monumental and eye-wateringly expensive failure, whilst the NHS staff on the ground have delivered a truly world class vaccination programme. Simple message: allow those who know what they are doing to get on with it and stop exploiting the crisis for financial gain.
  5. WRITE TO YOUR MP! Yes, this government has a massive majority and will, in all probablility, get its way, but that is no reason not to exert all the pressure we can on national and local level politicians to: listen; pause the bill; consult; and try to get it right.

Please help by telling us your stories so that we can put a human face to the one of the most important campaigns of our lives. Write to editor@westcountrybylines.co.uk.

If we love the NHS (and our GPs, social workers, health visitors, mental health teams, ambulance crews etc) as much as we all say we do, we will do all we can to force the government to think again.