On Saturday, 4th September, campaigners will raise the alarm to challenge the government to tackle NHS waiting lists, at Nye Bevan Pool, WN8 6LT, from 2-3pm.
The protest will feature symbolic alarm clocks, highlighting how time is running out for the government to deal with the crisis. Patients have been invited to share their experiences of having to wait for treatment, highlighting the stories of human suffering behind the numbers, and Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, has also been invited.
We Own It, who campaign for public services for people not profit, claim that record waiting lists, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, are in large part due to privatisation within the NHS.
They warn that long waiting lists are pushing those who can afford it to use their savings to go private – and that this could create a US-style two tier system where those who can’t pay are left to suffer.
They are calling on the government to fund the NHS properly so that it can provide patients with the care they need. This includes funding social care so that hospital patients can be safely discharged.
The most recent NHS figures show 5.45 million people waiting for treatment as of June 2021, which health secretary Sajid Javid has admitted could rise to 13 million as people come forward for non-coronavirus related treatment as the UK recovers from the pandemic.
Local campaigner Paul Hogan, who organised the stunt in Skelmersdale, said:
“Every minute that people are waiting, their conditions are getting worse. It’s heartbreaking to know that people in my community including friends and relatives are being failed by a lack of funding.
“The response of the government simply has not been good enough. We all saw throughout the pandemic that NHS workers are heroes – but they are still human and can’t do their jobs under so much pressure.
“To fix this, proper investment is needed – to maintain hospitals and pay for enough staff to tackle the backlog”.
The protest is part of a wider movement throughout the UK, coinciding with the launch of the new We Won’t Wait campaign with a rally in London, and an online petition.
Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It, said:
“Tackling these staggering waiting lists should be the top priority for the government. But the way to tackle them is not to continue piling the pressure onto our amazing NHS staff. The attitude of ‘more of the same’ just won’t work – as we’ve seen, because the waiting lists are continuing to grow.
“The government seems hell bent on using this issue as an excuse to bring in more privatisation. They’ve pledged £10 billion for private companies to ‘help’ – with £200 million already ear-marked for shareholder profits. If they were serious about solving the problem, this money – and much more – would be going directly to our NHS.
“The only way to do justice to the millions of people whose health is deteriorating every day they aren’t seen – and to the key workers striving to help them – is to reinstate the NHS as a fully public service”.