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"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it." (Nye Bevan, 1948)

"We are those folk, come and join us. "(Defend Enfield NHS, 2022)

denhs members at palmers green triangle june 2022Defend Enfield NHS (DENHS) campaigners at Palmers Green Triangle earlier this month

Frances Warboys from Defend Enfield NHS explains how the NHS has been neglected and what the implications are of the Health & Care Act that comes into effect next week.


Once the title of a very funny sketch show in the 1960ss, the phrase is fast becoming indicative of a very bad joke.

NOT ONLY has there been chronic under-funding of the NHS for at least the past 10 years…….BUT ALSO the country has experienced the worst pandemic in living memory.

NOT ONLY were we ill-equipped for this nightmare scenario, which it might be argued could not have been predicted……BUT ALSO it appears that the government had totally ignored the findings of the 2016 Cygnus and Alice simulations which it set up specifically to address the question of whether or not the country was adequately prepared for such an eventuality.

NOT ONLY, as a consequence, were front-line staff having to wear makeshift protective clothing in the absence of professional grade gear …...BUT ALSO millions of pounds were wasted through the purchase by government of PPE from private companies inexperienced in this field, much of which was unusable and some of which has reportedly since been burned.

NOT ONLY were doctors, nurses, care workers and others laying their lives on the line to protect, vaccinate and save the lives of the nation ……. BUT ALSO, instead of proper, inflation-busting pay awards to help them and their families in desperate times, all they have so far been given is “the clap”!

AND NOT ONLY, during lockdown, when elderly and vulnerable patients were discharged untested into care homes, were people required to wear masks, socially distance, and were refused the opportunity to comfort loved ones during their final hours …… BUT ALSO they have since learned that the prime minister, his fellow ministers and advisers were, during that same time, indulging in “Partygate” in complete contravention of the very rules that they themselves laid down for everyone else.

Defend Enfield NHS logo

"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it". We are those folk - come and join us

Some might say “This is history, now move on!” So what can we actually look forward to?

On 1st July 2022 the National Health Service will be reorganised into 42 new bodies called Integrated Care Systems, each controlled by a board of directors with a duty to provide healthcare for their local area. This reorganisation is set out in the Health & Care Act which became law in April 2022. But as the National Audit Office has already fore-warned, while services remain severely under-funded and under-staffed there is little or no evidence to support claims that “integration” will bring improved outcomes for patients. When finance chiefs have warned that every health system will face real term funding cuts in 2022-2023; and North Central London, the ICS for Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington, will start with an initial deficit of £359 million, how will this help?

Much better, in fact, to avert the threats posed by lack of staff, worn-out equipment and crumbling buildings by proper investment now.

Organisations and individuals have been campaigning tirelessly against changes arising from the Act which will potentially endanger patient safety and quality of care; undermine local accountability; and do nothing to end privatisation which simply places valuable resources in the pockets of profiteers and shareholders.

One such example is that of private hospitals that were contracted by the NHS to take a share of the patient population at the height of the Covid pandemic. Although in reality some took only a fraction of the numbers expected, they had no hesitation in putting staff on furlough and claiming yet more funds from the government. Again, NOT ONLY …. BUT ALSO!

Much was made recently of the establishment of privately-owned diagnostic hubs across the country. And yet, one of these has gone into liquidation after a mere eight months because, allegedly, not enough cancer patients came forward!

At a time when 6.4 million patients are awaiting treatment; 1.2 million await cancer scans; others wait weeks even for a telephone consultation; ambulances are log-jammed at hospital entrances further delaying response times by paramedics to other emergency calls; doctors are retiring early from burn-out after their magnificent efforts throughout the past two years; and nurses and other key workers have been so poorly rewarded for their sterling service in difficult and dangerous conditions that they are having to use food banks, how can this be right?

Nurses have been offered a 3% pay rise while inflation has soared to 9% and rising. How does this help with recruitment and retention?

If private healthcare companies are given any more opportunities to profit from the NHS, things will only get worse. At the latest poll, 76% of the population wants to end privatisation of the NHS.

If you are one of those people, and as we approach the 74th Birthday of the NHS on 5th July, now is the time to speak up.

Key demands of Keep Our NHS Public at the SOS NHS National Day of Action this year were as follows:

  1. Approve emergency funding of £20 billion to save lives this winter
  2. Invest in a fully publicly owned NHS and guarantee free healthcare for future generations
  3. Pay staff properly: without fair pay, staffing shortages will cost lives.

There is no better way to sum up the rationale for the existence of DENHS, HCT, Keep Our NHS Public, Doctors for the NHS, Junior Doctors Alliance, NHS Patient Voice, We Own It, and many others than in the words of Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS in July 1948:


 We are those folk - come and join us!



This article was originally attributed to Sue Davies instead of Frances Warboys. Apologies to both.

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