Saturday 2nd April 2011, 12:00pm
Millenium Square, outside Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3HE [map]
It was a little unclear whose event this was, at first. Although All Together for the NHS Day was originally announced by Unison, and members of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Branch were there with their banner, the initiative in Leeds appears to have been taken by a group of medical students involved with the Medsin global health campaigning group.
Between 100 and 150 people turned out for this event, good considering how hastily it had been called, and credit needs to go to everyone involved in organising and publicising it. However, in a city like Leeds, we should be able to build something much bigger, in defence of our health service. The trades unions need to take a role in building the next one, although we cannot simply leave it to them. The NHS belongs to us all, and the task of defending it falls to every one of us.
The rally heard from a number of speakers, including local public health consultant Dr. Martin Schweiger. They spoke of the danger of a privatised health service where cost is the sole deciding factor. This would mean that organisations who provide the training for the next generation of staff, offer decent terms and conditions, would not be able to compete. Patients would suffer at the hands of companies offering care on the cheap, delivered by staff on the minimum wage. The organisers gathered a petition and a contact list, and this will be only the first in a series of events aimed at stopping Andrew Lansley’s plans.
Stop Press: The Telegraph is reporting that Cameron is backing down on some of the proposals in the Health and Social Care bill. We still have work to do, but this is a campaign we can win!