Saturday 7th July 2018 will be remembered by many as a day when a determined team successfully carried out a plan, cheered on by the public who joined them and culminating in a celebration with singing, cheering and applause.
No, not England’s quarterfinal win over Sweden (congratulations!)
Before that event, in a part of South West London, the Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) Campaign March and Rally took place, led by members of the campaign group, over 150 people gathered to wish our beloved NHS a very happy 70th Birthday and to show public support for those who care for us and provide the acute services we need and value at our TWO acute hospitals, Epsom Hospital and St Helier Hospital.
An enthusiastic crowd gathered under a blazing hot midday sun in Manor Park, Sutton, and shared banners and placards around, displaying so many groups who support our TWO acute hospitals, and giving clear messages about what KOSHH and members of the public think of current plans to reduce access to vital acute services locally.
Calls to join the march and rally were made from a roving Landrover, circling the Park, then at 12:50, people began the March, setting off towards Sutton High Street before making their way to a rally on the green, opposite St Helier Hospital.
Shoppers stopped and cheered us on through the heart of Sutton, taking leaflets to learn more about the terrible plans NHS bosses are threatening to impose across our local Health Services.
Accompanied by the trusty Land-Rover, the March carried on towards Rose Hill, gathering more cheers and tooting horns in support from drivers, as we crossed the footbridge over Angel Hill.
Finally, with more supportive waves and toots, a tired and very hot bunch of NHS supporters arrived at the open space to gather opposite St Helier Hospital, in front of the KOSHH gazebo.
Here everyone was entertained, and thoughts provoked, by songs from the NHS Singers, a choir formed to support all the campaign groups nationally, currently battling to stop the destruction of our NHS as we know it, fighting to stop it being replaced by a system of co-payments and insurance.
Then Sandra Ash of KOSHH addressed the crowd, followed by Family Doctor and NHS campaigner, Dr Bob Gill, and finally Dave Ash also of KOSHH, spoke; all 3 explained the threat to our NHS both locally and nationally, and how local plans will reduce the availability of treatment when and where it is needed and how plans to label land and buildings as ‘surplus’ are simply a land grab to take valuable assets from the public sector and put them into private hands for Corporate profit.
Make no mistake: we are fighting to preserve what we still have, and reinstate what has already been taken away, of our NHS, our right to publicly provided healthcare, available according to need and NOT ability to pay.