The East Sussex NHS Campaign aims to bring together anyone, regardless of their political persuasion, who wants to fight for our NHS. It is affiliated to both Health Campaigns Together and Keep Our NHS Public.
This campaign is now made up of two branches based in Eastbourne and Hastings. Both branches will now be contributing to this website. The Hastings branch is known as Keep Our NHS Public Hastings and Rother. The Eastbourne branch will be simply East Sussex Save the NHS -Eastbourne branch. We have welcomed this development in the campaign as we have always believed that it was important to consider services in neighbouring districts. When Eastbourne lost its consultant led maternity unit – women from Eastbourne started having to travel to the Hastings unit to give birth. Apart from the fact that some woman have actually given birth during the journey to Hastings the maternity unit in Hastings was never expanded. Now more and more women from Hastings are being sent elsewhere to give birth because the Conquest lacks the capacity to serve both towns. Services don’t really merge, that term is designed to make the fact that one hospital is suffering the loss of a service more palatable to the public.
When the NHS was created in 1948 our country was heavily in debt following World War 2. If people had no health insurance from their workplace they had to rely on charity for their healthcare. Our population was unhealthy, disease was often left untreated and death came too soon. The government of the day understood that the people needed to be cared for, to be adequately housed, given healthcare and provided with social care if we were to rebuild the country and grow our economy. So the NHS was founded, giving universal healthcare for all that was free at the point of need and funded through taxation so those with the greatest means paid the most. In this way the burden of ill-health was shared across the whole nation.
But in the words of Nye Bevan, Secretary of State for Health, at the time: “The NHS will last as long as their are enough folk left with the faith to fight for it.” Nye Bevan knew that the future of our NHS was far from secure and there would be times when governments may choose policy that damages our healthcare system.
Nobody can have escaped the stories coming out in our media today of: Increased waiting times for NHS treatment; patients dying on trolleys in our hospital corridors; cuts to services; NHS staff morale being at an all time low; staff shortages and NHS trusts running up huge deficits. But our healthcare system is still doing a fantastic job, make no mistake, our NHS is being failed it is not failing. This is thanks to the amazing people who work within the NHS. But cracks are appearing and they will only get bigger unless we act now to reverse policy that is favoured by Westminster.
Our NHS is in crisis, it has suffered at the hands of successive governments and is threatened further by more damaging political changes.
But the Right to Healthcare is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This campaign group will aim to spread awareness of the damaging politics behind this crisis, and unite people to send a clear message to our politicians that we expect something better. This is about fighting for our rights and the rights of our friends and families.
For all who love the NHS and everything it stands for there is a book called Body and Soul of poems collected to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. I really can strongly recommend getting hold of a copy and having a read.