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20/03/2017 – Press Release – Public Support for the NHS

At a well attended public meeting last Tuesday Mid Sussex people showed their support for the "Defend our NHS" campaign. The meeting, sponsored by Burgess Hill Branch of the Labour Party was effectively chaired by Simon Hayward, Labour's County Council candidate for Burgess Hill North Division in May 2017.

Those who attended heard from Simon May, Kathy Walters and Ian Evans of their current experiences in the NHS and were keen to ask the guests questions on how the public can help Defend our NHS.

All guest speakers had one message, "Do not blame the NHS or it’s staff for the current crisis, they do a fantastic job, the cause is a lack of funding”. Speakers stressed that the lack of funding hits the NHS, including Mental Health and Social Care. As a result patients cannot be discharged from hospital to free up beds, routine operations are regularly cancelled as there is a lack of beds for recovering patients and A&E Departments are stretched to breaking point. In their view professionals cannot always deliver the level of care they want to and the British public rightly expects.

Members of the audience expressed deep concern that there is apathy amongst the general public. In their view people are simply prepared to accept underfunding and an inevitable move to Health Insurance. And people voiced disgust at the way Health Insurance companies reject high risk cases, those where people have a health precondition.

Many of those there intend to take the fight to Defend our NHS further. Some suggested more rallies in London, others advocated writing to MPs. In practical terms now, local protest groups can be set up, on the model currently adopted in Brighton. This will involve providing posters for shops and businesses to protest against underfunding. Speakers encouraged the public to protest in writing to health authorities about a new nationwide initiative on planning for health care, called Sustainability and Transformation Plans. In effect these plans are a coded way of reorganising and devolving health care, so that the Government can avoid direct responsibility for the NHS. The local plan covering Mid Sussex is full of "management speak" and fails to address practical issues. The meeting was convinced that it is another way of wasting money on bureaucracy at the expense of patient care.

Speaking for Burgess Hill Labour Party Simon Hayward said, “We are delighted that this open meeting was a great success. The public is better informed about NHS issues and what action they can take to Defend our NHS. The Mid Sussex Labour Party intends to use such open meetings in future, across the constituency, to cover issues that concern local people.”

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