[First published on our website: 1 July 2007]
On Saturday a vocal crowd of around 70 people turned out for a demonstration called by Keep Our NHS public in Brighton. This was a protest against the cuts and closures that are being pushed through across Sussex including plans to shut down accident and emergency centres, and to raise public awareness that is the privatisation of our NHS that is driving the changes.
Despite the heavy rain the demonstration made its way through the centre of the city receiving much support from the public who had braved the weather to head out. Chants included "Public health not private wealth" and hundreds of leaflets explaining the truth behind the private contracts suffocating NHS funds were handed out to the public.
The 'reconfiguration' of hospitals across Sussex will see accident and emergency centres closed and downgraded in major hospitals surrounding Brighton. Haywards Heath, Shoreham, Worthing and Eastbourne hospitals are all under threat.
Many services will be centralised to the Royal Sussex County in Brighton, a hospital already strained, having a major part of its A&E provision privatised with staff still bracing themselves for job cuts this year. On top of this appalling cut in health provision, we have seen in the past few weeks that the PFI-built New Princess Alexandra Children's Hospital having to begin to pay rent to its private builders even though its is still not ready, and mental health services across Sussex will be made into a foundation trust - another form of privatisation.
Despite the overwhelming public support for a publicaly-owned and publicaly-run health system, the Labour government is determined to bring the market into the NHS so profit decides. This process, if not halted, will signal the end of the NHS as a public health system.
Keep Our NHS Public will continue to support the hospital workers and raise the arguments against privatisation. We will now be continuing our work towards the national demonstration called by the health unions in London on 13 October