Phelim Mac Cafferty: Marching to save the NHS from merciless Tory cuts

Cllr Phelim MacCafferty
Cllr Phelim MacCafferty

This weekend, the Green Party alongside campaigners and residents will march in support of one of the public’s most used and valued public services – the NHS.

Yes, we are now at the point where we have to take to the streets to defend what we thought was off-limits – free healthcare at the point of demand.

From the sad news that HIV service the Sussex Beacon is at risk of closure, to many of our local hospitals on ‘black alert’, the health care we need is clearly already under attack from merciless Conservative Government cuts.

I have raised the alarm before on the ‘secret’ plans that Government is imposing on the NHS. They come disguised as a ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ or STP.

Are people aware that cuts are part of this ‘transformation’ plan?

I don’t think they have been informed. Is the public aware of the detail in the STP?

I don’t think they are.

All of this is proof of one thing – there has in no way been adequate consultation about the most extensive shake up of our NHS to date.

We are talking a potential £864 million. We are talking every single part of the NHS likely to be affected.

Yet this week, in a letter from the NHS, we were told that STPs are moving from ‘planning phase to implementation.’

It is no surprise that the British Medical Association, GPs and the Kings Fund have slammed the STP as ‘unsustainable.’ Sadly, within Brighton and Hove Council, both the Labour administration and Conservative opposition refused to support a Green Group motion that called for all progress on the local STP to be halted until the public were given the full consultation they deserve.

Our request was amended out of existence by the Labour administration and voted down. In fact, the Council sees no serious risk in these plans, and commands us to ‘opt in’ and ‘cooperate.’ This paltry response to the changes in the NHS from Labour and Conservative councillors is completely unacceptable.

That’s why we must march this Saturday; we must use our voice to defend the NHS.

Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.