NHS campaigners celebrate award ahead of PFI debate

Sussex Defend the NHS campaigners were handed the Miners' Lamp
Sussex Defend the NHS campaigners were handed the Miners' Lamp

Sussex Defend the NHS was handed the annual Miners' Lamp award by the Brighton, Hove and District Trades Council last week.

The award is made for the most significant contribution to the trades union and labour movement during the past year.

The lamp was donated in 1984 by the Kent National Union of Mineworkers in appreciation of the solidarity shown by the people of Brighton during their historic strike.

NHS supporters took it out with them in the icy weather recently, talking to residents about the impact of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes on public services.

Sussex Defend the NHS has organised a public meeting on Tuesday, March 27, to discuss the issue, and is hosting a free, national touring photographic exhibition about PFI.

It will be launched by the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, on Saturday, March 24, at Brighton’s Black and Minority Ethnic Community Partnership Centre at Fleet Street, Brighton.

The exhibition, Private Finance Initiative (PFI): How come we’re still paying for this? is put together by The People vs. PFI, with text by Helen Mercer and photographs by Marion Macalpine. It illustrates how PFI has been used since the 1990s to finance, construct and run public projects, which Sussex Defend the NHS said was 'at enormous cost and often with devastating consequences'.

The campaigners said panels have been added to draw attention to Brighton PFI schemes, including three high schools, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, the Veolia Waste and Recycling scheme and the Jubilee Library.

Speakers at the public meeting on Tuesday, March 27, include: Helen Mercer (People versus PFI); Dr. Youssef El-Gingihy (GP and author of How to Dismantle the NHS in Ten Easy Steps); Diane Montgomery (Brighton Living Rent Campaign); and Sally Hunt (Gen.Secretary University and College Union).

Madeleine Dickens of Sussex Defend the NHS, said: “This will be an important and provocative exhibition and public meeting. We are thrilled to be hosting them. We are all affected by these PFI schemes and will be for many years to come.

"They are one of the key reasons why our NHS and all public services are short of cash. I hope everyone will come along to find out more, and to discuss how we can put an end to PFI.”

To find out more, visit: defendthenhssussex.weebly.com