Home   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Pro-NHS protesters stage Cambridge die-in for ‘really scary, really sad’ Health and Care Bill





Protesters took to the streets of Cambridge today to raise awareness of a trio of bills going through Parliament this month which, if passed into law, are poised to dramatically reshape the cultural, legal, healthcare, economic and political environment in the UK for generations to come.

Protesters on Sidney Street at the Keep Our NHS Public die-in. Picture: Derek Langley
Protesters on Sidney Street at the Keep Our NHS Public die-in. Picture: Derek Langley

Keep Our NHS Public organised a die-in on Sidney Street to highlight the danger to the NHS posed by the Health and Care Bill, which has passed the final hurdle in the House of Commons and will now be put before the House of Lords. The Health and Care Bill, if passed, will radically restructure the NHS from next April, introducing more private funding and private provision of health services, and removes the requirement for emergency services to be provided for everybody in newly designated areas.

Meanwhile the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, due to have its third reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday (December 15), could criminalise peaceful protest. It has been described as one of the most serious threats to human rights and civil liberties in the UK’s recent history because it allows the Home Secretary to decide which protests are legal.

Finally the Nationality and Borders Bill – Clause 9 of which gives the government the right to deprive British people of their citizenship without informing them first – threatens the citizenship of six million UK citizens born overseas or with dual nationality. The bill is currently going through the House of Commons and will progress to the House of Lords by next year.

The three bills were called out at Saturday’s Keep Our NHS Public die-in, organised with support from The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Join4Justice, Extinction Rebellion, as being “three really terrifying fascist bills”, with the presenter adding that making it illegal to help people drowning in the English Channel – potentially criminalising the RNLI – “shows how ridiculous the Nationality and Borders Bill is”.

Health and Social Care Bill protest on Sidney Street. Picture: Derek Langley
Health and Social Care Bill protest on Sidney Street. Picture: Derek Langley

Speaking on the Health and Care Bill, one of the protesters on Sidney Street, near Petty Cury, said. “This bill will give private companies the right to sit on health boards and commission services. It is one of a number of bills passed over several decades which has incrementally privatised our NHS, and this feels like the final nail in the coffin because this bill actually gives companies the power to commission services from themselves, which is moving us towards a much more American-style healthcare system.

“When people think of the public healthcare system in this country and they think we have the NHS and we do in so far as the services are concerned, but demand for these services is being squeezed by these companies in order that they can make a profit from them and, over the coming years, if this bill goes through – which it will because of the Tories’ 80-seat majority – we’ll increasingly see more and more of these services being moved out of the provision of the NHS and into the private sector. So fewer services will be provided for free within the NHS, and people will start having to pay for what they need.

“It’s really scary and it’s really sad because it’s one of the great institutions we have in this country and we’re finally getting to a stage where the reality is it’s just a shell, it’s collapsing from the inside out. People don’t realise it when they go out and clap for the NHS who are not being given a pay rise by this government, and are being moved out of the public sector and into the private sector. People really care about the NHS in this country, and we can’t have an American-style health care system in this country, because that is a system where people die if they can’t afford medical insurance.”

In a Facebook Live broadcast, the presenter said: “If we privatise the NHS that just means that in future pandemics – in future health crises that are going to be more and more common as we experience climate breakdown – poor people are just going to die because if you’re not rich enough there just won’t be care for you.

“We’re moving towards a US-style healthcare system, which is going to kill people, because it’s killing people in the US, and you’d have to be completely unfeeling to think that moving towards a US system is morally right, and if we look at that, all we can conclude is that the people making these decisions are not guided by morality, they’re not guided by what’s right, they’re guided by profit alone, and we know from the last week that they have complete and utter contempt for us, it’s absolutely one rule for them, one rule for us.

“But also, you know what? We’ve been talking about that and we haven’t been talking enough about these bills, we haven’t been talking enough about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is making protest basically illegal, we haven’t been talking about the Nationalities and Borders Bill which makes it pretty much illegal to help anyone who is, say, drowning in the Channel if you suspect that they might not be British, and it’s making it illegal to be an asylum seeker more or less, so there’s that and there’s this bill which is privatising the NHS and it’s really scary to see all these things coming in at once.”

Protesters at the Keep Our NHS Public die-in on Sidney Street. Picture: Derek Langley
Protesters at the Keep Our NHS Public die-in on Sidney Street. Picture: Derek Langley

Hooda Abdullah of Keep Our NHS Public said: “This [event] attracted a lot of attention. People were intrigued, curious to know what this striking action was about. For some it was a shock to learn of the extent of profiteering from our NHS.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill proposals on protests “are in line with human rights legislation and in no way impinge on the right to protest”. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has branded as “complete nonsense” the suggestion that the Health and Care Bill will facilitate a corporate takeover of the NHS.

An earlier event took place at Shire Hall to call on the pensions committee of the combined authority and county council to commit to divestment from fossil fuels at the next committee meeting on Monday (December 13).

At Shire Hall, protesters demand the end of council pension funds being invested in fossil fuel corporations. Picture: Derek Langley
At Shire Hall, protesters demand the end of council pension funds being invested in fossil fuel corporations. Picture: Derek Langley

At 11am, members of UK Divest, Cambridge Friends of the Earth, Fossil Free UK, Extinction Rebellion Cambridge, Extinction Rebellion Ely, Peterborough in Transition, Extinction Rebellion Peterborough, EastCambs CAN and Cambridge Green Party protested the £57m in direct investments in fossil fuels operated by the pension fund. They are calling on the Pension Fund Committee to commit to full divestment of the fund from companies associated with the extraction of coal, oil, and gas, and to specify a date by which divestment will be achieved.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More