By Lucette Davies

East Sussex Save the NHS are preparing for an event to take place in Eastbourne for the SOS NHS National Day of Action. This event has been planned as our NHS is now facing its worst crisis in history. This is a national emergency.

Events are taking place on the 26th February all around the country to make three key demands on Westminster.

We want the Government to –

· Approve emergency funding of £20bn to save lives this winter

· Invest in a fully publicly owned NHS and guarantee free healthcare for future generations

· Pay staff properly as without fair pay staffing shortages will cost lives

This crisis in our NHS is not simply because of the pandemic. Waiting lists were over 3m in September 2015 although the pandemic certainly led to a much steeper rise. Staff pay has not become such an issue because of the pandemic as NHS staff have been on pay restraint since 2010. It’s just that now after all they have been through in dealing with this pandemic the latest below inflation pay increase simply added insult to injury.

We must stop excusing this Government’s mishandling of our NHS. People are now losing their lives because of it and many others are suffering.

Our NHS as a fully publicly owned and provided healthcare system would offer us the fairest and efficient means of providing healthcare to the nation. It’s just that every Government since 1948 has deviated from that initial ideal as they get influenced by those who believe they should be able to make profit out of Britain’s ill health.

Since 2010 the governments of the UK have had a massive push towards turning our NHS into an American style healthcare system. And this Government has seen the pandemic as a means to accelerate this process free from the public’s attention and with the ability to make ‘emergency’ legislation that can then be quietly concreted into our system.

We turned out and applauded NHS staff every Thursday night and put up posters and stickers saying ‘Than You NHS’. Now the NHS staff are on their knees as I wrote about in my last Bournefree column. So can we step up and fight for better pay and working conditions for them now?

We claim as a nation to ‘love the NHS’ so are we going to fight for it as a national health system or stand by and lament as it becomes another US style system. Do we want to have the highest number of people in the world going bankrupt for healthcare costs? Do we want a healthcare system twice as expensive as ours and half as efficient? Because that is what a US style system looks like.

We can afford our NHS.  For every £1 invested in national health the economy will benefit by £2-4. Sick people can’t work and nor can their families if they are left caring for them. Britain’s future prosperity depends on us fixing this crisis in the NHS

Which is why we will be in the town centre from 12:00 to 14:00 at Banker’s Corner on Feb 26th to fight for our NHS. If you want to join us please do, you would be more than welcome.