This week, I tabled a motion at the Full Council meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council asking that the council support the People’s March for the NHS which will be coming through towns in Nottinghamshire, including Hucknall.
This motion was passed 34 to 28 with all Labour County Councillors supporting the motion.
Many readers will be aware of the Jarrow March of October 1936, where 207 men and their MP, Ellen Wilkinson, marched from Jarrow to London to present a petition to the Prime Minister demanding that something be done to end wide scale poverty and unemployment in the area.
In 2011, a group of young people followed the same route to highlight rising Youth unemployment.
Now, a group of mums from Darlington are following in the footsteps, figuratively and literally, of previous campaigners, marching from Jarrow to London to highlight, and campaign against, the privatisation of the NHS. Like the historic Jarrow marchers before them, the mums will be passing through our county.
I wanted to bring the motion to council to ask for support for the marchers and also to show our support for their campaign to highlight the privatisation of vast swathes of the NHS following the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
A piece of legislation which has recently been described by the Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association, Kailash Chand OBE as ‘damaging to patient care’ and ‘failing on almost every measure’.
This is an Act which was passed by the coalition government without a mandate from the electorate and due to the piecemeal nature of the privatisation, has been largely unreported by some of the larger newspapers and broadcasters.
I share the frustration of the women who have organised this march. The frustration about the lack of public knowledge of the damage being done to our NHS by stealth privatisation; the frustration of further threats to our NHS on the horizon through the potential introduction of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union; and the frustration and fear of not knowing whether there will be a health service that is free, universal and of the best quality, to look after our families.
In the National Health Service, perhaps more than any other part of the public sector, the fundamental principle needs to be: People before profits.
I ask that all those readers who support our NHS as free at the point of use and available to all, regardless of their financial means, come out and show their support for the marchers who will be passing through Sutton, Kirkby, Newstead and Hucknall on 28th August before marching on to a rally in the City Centre in the evening.
You can join the march at any point, or for those less able, the marchers would be delighted to have you welcome them as they pass through our town. More precise times will be published as the date draws nearer. Further details of how you can get involved are available on the website: www.999callforNHS.org.uk