Sunday, 5 March 2017

Cornwall on the march!

Cornwall was on the march last weekend. There were numerous St Piran’s Day processions where people came together to celebrate Cornwall’s unique national identity. It is great to see the growing confidence in all aspects of our modern Cornishness, and to reflect how vitally important this is to our sense of place and the very well-being of our local communities.

But there were also a number of marches in towns such as Falmouth, Penzance and Truro, in support of the National Health Service. This was part of a wave of events, which also took place across much of England.

These protests came at a very important time. The British Medical Association has made it clear that the NHS “is at breaking point” and desperately needs additional funding, while the crisis in social care is making the situation far worse.

Much has been written about the protests and, for me, one of the most telling comments came from environmentalist Larry Sanders.

Mr Sanders said that he was “unwilling to stand by and watch” while the UK Government dismantled “public healthcare.”

He further added that: “The government tells us there isn’t enough money but this isn’t true. We are the fifth richest country in the world – we have the money to stop our health service turning into a humanitarian crisis, and to care for people when they grow old: in hospitals, the community and homes. We have the money for a fully funded public health service. If Theresa May is to keep her promise to ‘work for all, not just the privileged few,’ she must not let the NHS and social care crumble on her watch.”

He is right. Politicians in Westminster need to prioritise the NHS in their political choices, but this is not happening.

Reports have already shown that the NHS will have a funding “black hole” of £22 billion within five years, while a prominent committee of MPs has demanded additional emergency funding for social care. Meanwhile, the STP reforms proposed for Cornwall would leave the local NHS underfunded by £246 million.

And yet, when faced with such massive problems, leading members of the UK Government continue to be dismissive of these concerns.

Just look at the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who was interviewed in advance of this week’s budget statement. He acknowledged that councils were under significant pressure because of social care, but went on to make crass comments saying it was "not just about money" before confirming there would be no "spending sprees" in the near future.

This is unacceptable and shows that the NHS is not safe in the hands of Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt and the present Westminster Government.

[This will be my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].
[Thanks to Cllr Lance Dyer for the above photograph].

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