I registered as a delegate for this event, designed to help private companies to bid for NHS contracts, so that I could go inside the meeting hall. Outside of the International Conference Centre there was a demo of around forty people. 38 degree members were prominent. Inside the hall it was very well-attended and there was a shortage of seats at the introductory plenary session.
After the chairperson introduced the programme I stood up and made this speech:
“Procurement is a polite word for pimping and that is what is going on here; the prostitution of our public NHS to private profit-making.
On the one hand are NHS bodies buying services from private companies They are selling our NHS down the line and getting fat salaries for doing so. Some earn more than the Prime Minister, according to Jeremy Hunt. These people don’t care about the decline in standards of patient care and the deterioration in the pay and conditions of staff.
On the other hand we have sellers of services out to make profits for privaye shareholders. They put profits, not patients, first. They are motivated solely by capitalist greed. Already privatisation, as at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, is proving to be a disaster.
Pimps, watch out! We are coming after you. We will harrass you, disrupt your activities, do everything we can to stop you prostituting and destroying our NHS.
Down with privatisation, fight for the people’s NHS!”
I left the hall but later some members of the National Health Action Party stood up and sang an anti-privatisation song.
Outside I repeated my address to the demonstrators and urged them to go inside to disrupt the proceedings. Some of us tried to do so but the security guards and police managed to block the doors.
Afterwards some of the demonstrators went to a meeting organised by the NHAP where there was a discussion on the strategy and tactics of anti-privatisation campaigning. There was some recognition among those present that we have to develop our campaigning methods because the present ones are clearly inadequate.
The conclusion I draw from today’s event is that it is necessary to take more effective action at these sort of events so as to effectively disrupt them. We should aim to bring about a situation where NHS managers and private companies feel unable to stage such occasions.