By Steve Carne, Feb 6 2018 10:12AM
Marching through London on Saturday 3rd February
...with thousands of others was, surprisingly, a pleasant and inspiring day. I wasn’t looking forward to it if honest. Weather was cold and rainy. The streets would be lined with damp bemused tourists and yet again the mainstream media would ignore us.
So standing outside Euston Square tube station at 11.30, already getting soggy in the drizzle I was a little apprehensive of what the hours ahead would bring. But you know what? Within minutes I was glad I made the effort. Smiles like canyons, hugs and embraces that only shared struggles can bring, laughter and wide eyes at seeing familiar and unknown “know the name oh my god you’re...!” faces - you’re not just marching you’re stepping into a community. Something like a family.
As more and more placards and overcoats...
...poured out of the tube station the police began to move us. I was proud to shuffle along Gower Street with the Fighting 4 Life Lincolnshire crowd and the handmade NHS UPRISING banner they have taken to events from Louth to Grimsby, Grantham, Lincoln, Barnsley and now London.
Proud to stand with campaigns from Bedford, Milton Keynes, Chorley, Huddersfield. More hugs, more loud laughs. Proud to laugh with NHS Staff members who know a whole different experience from those of us fighting on the outside. With strong principled Trade Union reps who are frustrated with the faults in their organisations and are determined to challenge them from within.
Talking is good, chanting...?
Waiting for the off was a chance to talk but I’m not a natural chanter - although I have been accused by some of having a big mouth. But I’m an actor in past life and hollow words don’t fit in my mouth easily. You have to feel words, words have to mean something and today - more than ever before we were keen to try new crowd shouts. The old familiar ones are always great for morale but the story has moved on.
This was going to take a while.
But following the trial run three people asked what an ACO was. Explaining in simple terms our understanding of the fixed whole population budget that would radically alter the funding mechanisms currently in place; explaining that NHS Improvement were looking into how they could legally allow non-NHS bodies to become controllers of NHS & social care budgets; by the time I was half way through “and it’s suggested that they will be able to keep unspent money every year...” eyes and mouths were open wide and all 3 sang the same tune “but that’s the American system!”.
Welcome to our world.
By the time we’d reached Covent Garden confidence was growing. Megaphone piggybacking was the name of the game and in full swing. Again more people asking and turning to their fiends once they understood. A few more people knew what an ACO was and why we have to scrap the whole idea. And that is fantastic because the more I was forced to explain - the brighter the lightbulbs shone.
One member of the Ageing population tapped me on the shoulder. And I have to thank her for her demand. With tears in her eyes she wanted to know why we weren't shouting about privatisation and getting the private companies out of the NHS. "It's not ours anymore, they've taken it, I cant shout Our NHS anymore." I have to thank her for reminding me that there is so much to shout about you sometimes forget the important messages. And if the collapse of Carillion has taught us nothing this last two weeks it's that allowing private companies any control of our public services is a potential life threatening disaster - other companies are embedded in the management and control of our NHS - so we began to chant some more truths...
To quote the Prince song... there is joy in repetition. It’s sadly what we have to do. Not get bogged down in it but enjoy repeating the truth to our friends, our neighbours and to power.
The messages coming out of the establishment right now indicate they are battoning down the hatches because they know we are onto them and laying seige to their plans, and their hollow announcements are nothing but red herring distractions and misleading propaganda, and we even had a song for that on Saturday. We even smiled as we sang. Listeners smiled and joined in because they got the (sick) joke... we can see through the bullshit.
(to the tune of La Bamba)
It’s the Ageing population!
It’s the ageing population with complex needs
They’re all to blame, they’re all to blame
It’s the Doctors and the Nurses!
It’s the Doctors and the Nurses, they’re to blame
Making cups of tea in A&E
What is it?
Next step is washing it away. There is joy in repetition...
Drip Drip Drip...
That's what the government and the establishment have been doing for a very long time. Repeating over and over until our heads can think of nothing else. Their tap is on full but the water is running out. Our campaign reservoir is just beginning to overflow.
Keep filling it up... there is joy in repetition.
To find a Local Councillors Rough Guide to ACOS CLICK HERE
To find our more about our legal challenge to the ACO contract CLICK HERE
Thanks to all the campaigners out there.