I went to the Ealing Hospital rally in support of junior Drs, which was brilliantly organised by local campaign group, Ealing Save Our NHS. It was a very powerful event and I felt quite emotional standing together with over 100 people – junior and senior Drs, nurses, relatives of patients from within the hospital, union representatives, parents of young children and elected politicians – to protest loudly against the unfair and unsafe contract for Junior Drs.
The speakers were varied and inspirational. Although, at times, the crowd had to strain to hear over the continuous noise of drivers on Uxbridge Road tooting their horns in support of the junior doctors picket. A few things that the speakers said stood out. Firstly, Dr Ravi Ganepola was quite emotional when he said that ever single striking doctor in the country would much rather be working on the ward, helping their patients, than picketing outside the hospital in the rain. These Drs are very reluctant activists who are simply desperate for the Government to listen to their fears about what this contract will do to patient care. He is very worried there will an exodus of junior Drs when the contract is imposed.
Meanwhile, local celebrity, Shappi Khorsandi echoed the concerns of parents from across the community. I have a one year old and a three year old, and I am worried that the children’s A&E that is currently closest to my home will be shut. And finally, there was a call to action from virtually all speakers to tell friends, families and colleagues about what the Government is actually doing to our NHS. It’s starving our hospital of funds, selling of chunks of the NHS to private companies who are running them for profit and stretching every single member Dr, nurse, radiologist and ambulance driver to breaking point.
Jeremy Hunt is desperately hoping that we won’t notice and that we won’t protest the destruction of our health service. Judging by the strength of feeling at yesterday’s rally, and at public demonstrations across the country, Mr Hunt is out of luck.
I feel lucky that we have such a strong local group in Ealing Save Our NHS, which supports our local hospitals and is leading efforts to protect our local hospital and support NHS staff.