Author and campaigner Harry Leslie Smith, who famously spoke about the roots of the NHS and the importance of defending it at Labour Party conference 2014 (see the video here), is backing the resolution to this year’s conference being circulated by Labour NHS activists. Harry says:
“I was born almost a hundred years ago, so I remember Britain before the NHS. It was a time when working families like mine couldn’t afford a doctor or medicine because they were luxuries. My sister died of tuberculosis in a workhouse infirmary. During my childhood in the 1920s and 30s tens of thousands of children didn’t reach adulthood because their families could not afford either a doctor or the medicine needed to keep them healthy and alive.
“It was a barbaric time and that’s why my generation forged from the suffering of the Great Depression and the horrors of the Second World War an NHS that was for the people and not a profit making vehicle for the rich. The NHS became the tide that raised all boats in Britain because it strived to ensure that everyone was afforded the right to healthcare, regardless of wealth or class.
“As the light dims on my life like a spluttering candle, I fear that the NHS which has kept Britain healthy and productive for almost 70 years is also nearing its final day. But the NHS isn’t dying a natural death: it is being bled to death by corporations and governments intent on monetising health care for the profit of the few.
“If Labour does not act now to defend my generation’s legacy to this country, Britain is doomed to be as cruel and unequal as the United States of America. If Labour does not act now to uphold an NHS where healthcare needs are based on medical science and not the dividend returns of a stock market investment, Britain will slip back to the night-time of my youth where social justice was ignored to enrich the 1%.
“It is time Labour embrace its past and recall its glory by insisting the NHS is not for sale.
“It is time that Labour returns the NHS to the people by renationalising all its principal parts. It is time we make a stand and break the shackles of PFI that will turn the health service into a financial slave of the hedge funds.
“It is time we all remember that if the NHS is not protected from privatisation we will return to the barbarous era when healthcare was a privilege, not a right. That is why I endorse this resolution to Labour Party conference and call for you to submit it from your CLP.”