Marching to Save our NHS

by David Chalmers on 6 April, 2017


Last weekend I joined hundreds of people as we marched from Pilton Park in Barnstaple to North Devon District Hospital to show our support for our local hospital Services.

Similar ‘red line’ demonstrations against cuts to our local hospitals took place in towns right across Northern Devon from Ilfracombe to Torrington, from Bideford to South Molton and Holsworthy.

In Barnstaple, the message was loud and clear: ‘No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts.’

Our hospital is special to our town and North Devon. The people of North Devon campaigned for well over a decade to have our hospital built and its existence is essential to the well being of our area. With our population increasing, more people moving to North Devon and the increase in holiday visitors, we need our hospital now more than ever and should be looking to maintain and possibly increase its services. Added to that, the rural nature of where we live – only Cumbria’s hospital is more remote – and the distances and time taken to travel to alternative hospitals in Exeter and Plymouth, mean that it is essential we keep our hospital in North Devon.

We are told that we are overspending and have to make savings of £550 million, but compared to other parts of the country we are underfunded. If only our hospital services in Devon were funded fairly we would not now being threatened with losing services that will lead directly to people losing their lives.

Our Conservative MPs and Councillors claim to want to keep our hospital open but in the end they are just going to have to toe the line of their Conservative Masters in Westminster. We have an opportunity in 4 weeks time to send a message loud and clear to Mrs May that we are not just going to sit back and allow our hospital services to be reduced without a fight.

At some point we are going to have to address the long term funding of our health and social care services in the UK. We cannot keep spending less than other countries like France and Germany on health and still expect the same quality of service. Norman Lamb the Lib Dems Shadow Health Minister has proposed that we increase income tax by 1p to be allocated specifically for health and social care services.

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