150 activists lobbied Labour Party conference in Manchester on Sunday 21 September to demand a clear commitment on the future of the NHS – a mix of health campaigners, Labour members and conference delegates, trade unionists, students and many others. (In the end, despite what the police had told us, we were able to rally right at the conference entrance.)
Speakers included representatives from numerous local campaigns, “Darlo Mum” Joanne Land, John McDonnell MP and Anita Downs from Unite at Lewisham Hospital.
When Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham emerged from the conference, we pulled him over and he spoke to the lobby, restating Labour’s commitment to reverse the worst of the Tories’ NHS privatisation. He was asked – forceful! – questions about the private takeover of NHS services, about PFI and about reversing cuts, but failed to commit clearly.
When Burnham said Labour would make the NHS “preferred provider” of services, the crowd started chanting “One provider”.
Unite the Union’s head of health Rachael Maskell also came over – with a similar result.
Inside and outside the conference centre, our activists will be continuing to raise these issues for the rest of the week. And this is just the beginning of an ongoing campaign. Get involved! You can begin by signing our statement and getting in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some chants from the lobby
“Seize the banks, reclaim our wealth! Spend it on our national health!”
“Private providers? Come off it! All they care about is profit!”
“Don’t let hospitals choose and pick – Brits and migrants both get sick!”
“What do we want?”
“Save the NHS!”
“Reverse the cuts!”
“When do we want it?”
“Support NHS workers – support the strike!”
“Support patients – support the strike!”
“Serco, Virgin, G4S – kick them out of the NHS!”