:{RALLY TO SAVE OUR NHS}: Wednesday 7th March //


:{RALLY TO SAVE OUR NHS}: Wednesday 7th March //

I met up with my family after the rally last night. To put this in context, my sister is a doctor, recently admitted to the Royal College Of Physicians, with a view to specialising in endocrinology. In other words, she’s not a medical student, or even a junior doctor and spends all day, every day, working in a hospital.

Brace yourselves:
She had not even *heard* of the Health And Social Care Bill and is not aware of anyone talking about it at work. I went with a friend and we both tried corralling friends for last night, to little avail. Two people who did join us are doctors and both said their colleagues didn’t know about the rally.

What hope is there of the man in the street kicking off about the Health Bill, if people working on the front line aren’t even aware of it?

31 people spoke last night and, for all the passion and wise words about what was wrong with the bill, I heard precious little about what could be done, in practice, that would stop the bill getting royal assent.

When Liberal Democrat MP, Andrew George, stood up to boos, his first words were to reassure the throng that he had opposed the bill at every stage. This was admittedly received well, but some people continued to heckle, especially when he tried to explain the reality that the bill could be law by 20th March (that’s 12 days).

Ultimately, last night felt like too little, too late.
It was also far too closed and insular, particularly because it was indoors, on a Wednesday and started at 6pm, when a lot of people would still be at work, or not have time to get there. Where is the much more visible, large scale, public march and demonstration, à la Iraq? Or even, whisper it, a strike?

Organised by the TUC, Cameron will not quake at the news that some unions had a meeting where they decided they don’t like the Tories. (They also reached quoracy on the important matters of the sky being blue and that water is wet).

The Guardian’s report is on the front page of their website, but nowhere near the top and it’s not a sensational story, certainly unable to take precedence over ‘Six UK Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan’. Compare and contrast with Britain’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun, and the NHS doesn’t feature at all (understandable when there are pressing issues du jour like ‘I Can’t Have Kids… So I Got 97 Plastic Babies’).

Of course, I hope the bill bites the Tories on the arse, whether it’s sooner or later, but I’m not optimistic about a Labour landslide at the next election. There are several reasons, especially the economy, why Cameron should be less popular than botulism at the moment, but Labour are still not capitalising in the polls.

People get miffed about the economy when money starts disappearing from their wallets. Likewise, I wonder if the majority of people will only care about the NHS when they get sick and it affects them directly. By which time, it will be far too late. We might think this is a horrible mistake but, clearly, Andrew Lansley doesn’t; some changes have already been made and, so far, he’s getting away with it.

To my dismay, I wonder if opposition remains confined to niche, interested parties and hasn’t achieved broad, national traction. If Cameron thought it would lose him the next election, that would make them rethink – until then, why would he change?

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