What are we celebrating on #NHS67?
Today the NHS turns 67. It should be a proud day of celebration. We should be able to go about our business today relaxed in the knowledge that the NHS is properly funded, properly managed and always there for us when we need it. But we are living in curious times where, across the nation, campaigners are fighting for local services.
This is not how is should be on such an auspicious day.
We should not have to organise meetings in our communities to work out how we can keep our vital services, such as A&E and maternity, open.
We should not have to make Freedom of Information requests to find out from CCGs and hospital trusts how are money is being spent.
We should not see a penny of our money going to private consultancy firms, such as Deloittes, most of whom have clients with NHS contracts.
We should not be fobbed off when we ask questions about the impact of private contractors on our health services, such as private cleaning contractors and infection rates.
We should not have to remind people over and over again that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 is destroying our NHS and that all MPs who voted for it need to be held to account.
We should not have to beg and plead with the major political parties to come up with policies for our NHS that does not involve moving to a US-style, insurance-based system.
We should not have to march on the streets to demand that big corporations, such as Google, Boots, Virgin and Amazon, pay their fair share of taxes on profits made in the UK so that the NHS can be properly funded.
We should not have to struggle to tell people that PFI deals and the massive cost of the internal marketplace are putting huge cost pressures on the NHS.
We should not have to remind people that while there may indeed be an argument for charging people for the NHS if they are not entitled to use it, that money will only cover 0.06% of the total budget, despite disproportionate media reports about "health tourism".
We should not have to read and watch endless NHS-bashing reports in the media that offer no balance and only serve to whet the public appetite for hospital closures.
We should not have a situation where too many good people are leaving the NHS because the conditions are becoming intolerable.
We should not have our hospitals relying heavily on agency staff instead of employing permanent staff.
We should not have to beg and plead with CCGs to hold meetings at times that are convenient for more people and to properly publicise their meeting times.
We should not have to constantly explain to people what CCGs are and how they hold the pursestrings for major decisions about our hospitals.
We should not have to hear about cuts being euphemistically described as "efficiency savings".
We should not feel so powerless nor feel like the closure of our local hospitals is inevitable.
We should not have to do any of these things. And yet we do. Because if we don't, we won't have our local hospital and we won't have an NHS either.
Photography by Alex Grichenko