The Big Society NHS paid Andrew Lansley a Valentine’s visit today, but I’m not sure if he wanted to see us exactly.
Lansley was scheduled to speak at Imperial College on Monday afternoon, as part of the launch of the Imperial College School of Public Health, and we wanted to send him a message of love and fidelity, and maybe even a warning that being unfaithful to a partner can sometimes back-fire big time.
In the past 4 years or so, the Conservative Party has received £107,000 from Mr and Mrs Nash, the former CEO of Care UK and his wife. Care UK is a large private healthcare provider and care home operator. Lansley also received £21,000 in a separate donation from John Nash when he was in opposition, shortly before things went well for the company who have now been awarded a lucrative £53 million contract to provide healthcare to our prison inmates.
Hmm… smell something fishy?
What needs to happen is for Lansley to stop pandering to the private healthcare sector and for the Health and Social Care Bill to be amended so that it doesn’t basically hand this country’s health services to be taken over by dirty profit-driven companies by opening it up to ‘any willing provider’ – AKA private competition. This ‘free-market’ approach brought us the current economic crisis, remember! Competition on price, which is what is being proposed, will see a race to the bottom. Yes, it may become cheaper, but the evidence is that the quality of care will suffer, which means patients will get poorer outcomes. With all sorts of companies competing to provide the same service – duplication can lead to inefficiencies and a worsening postcode lottery is possible.
Valentines morning, we set up base at BMA House, finished off the banners and fake bank notes. The fake Lansley money was a big hit with the passing public, who wanted a ‘money off coupon’ for their next A&E visit. Friends from Student BMA News and the BMJ came down for a cuppa and a chat about the protest. We’re looking forward to seeing the write ups soon!
We certainly started feeling jittery around lunch time. Mixtures of nerves and excitement and that feeling of ‘I hope people turn up to my party’. We aimed for South Kensington and eventually found fellow protesters on campus at Imperial College and things brightened up when the banners came out and the security guards checked us out.
“WHAT DO WE WANT? STOP THE BILL!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!”
We shouted, and flyered and got the attention of all passers by. We thought Lansley was up in the lecture theatre so we made an extra loud racket for his benefit.
“LANSLEY LANSLEY, DON’T BE A FOOL!
YOU MAKE ME WANT TO QUIT MEDICAL SCHOOL!”
Security were jolly and didn’t mind us there at all really – they even accepted chocolaty offerings and whispered words of support for our cause – cheers guys! They just simply said there would be no way we’d be allowed into the building with all our banners etc.
We definitely created a scene with our enactment of Lansley’s love affair with Care-UK and United Health. A huge round of applause for our actors: Mr Mike Kalmus-Eliasz (as Andrew Lansley – booo!), Dr James Chan (as dirty corporate lobbyist #1) and Miss Emily Ward (dirty corporate lobbyist #2).
More photos to come soon!
Celebratory drinks and a last minute change of plan
We headed to Imperial Union for a celebratory post-protest pint and then received a text from the inside saying Lansley didn’t give the opening speech but was due to speak during the drinks reception in 40 minutes time….
So, with our newly graffiti’d Big Society T-shirts and our signs hidden, we headed back to the Great Hall and got in through a different entrance. Somehow we managed to bypass security and get into the lecture theatre for the last part of the panel discussion.
We thought our cunning plan to disrupt Lansley’s reception speech was coming into fruition until security clocked us and decided to take a register as people moved from the Great Hall to the reception room.
Our names were black-listed. The b***tards had tracked us down via facebook!!! *waves to MI5*
Apparently we had “already made our point earlier outside” and we “would not be welcome at the reception.” One of the security guys even let it slip that Lansley was getting the jitters and wasn’t sure whether or not to turn up.
However! We weren’t gonna go down that easily…
Why on earth would you choose to hold the reception drinks in a room with a 20metre stretch of glass patio windows hmm?!
Despite threats of police action, we took off our jackets and lined up with our backs to the window so Lansley could see the writing:
‘No Decision about us Without us’
‘Stop Cheating on the NHS’
According to our insiders, this evoked laughter from the worthy-of-reception-drinks crowd and as Lansley entered he looked over and read our messages before we were officially chucked off campus. We had an amicable farewell with the security staff and off we went.
Well done to those inside who asked him gruelling questions! We were pleased to hear that he was heavily berated and few people applauded him as he left. Hopefully he’s feeling a little less cocky this morning and slowly but surely he will realise that the public are far from being convinced by his ridiculous reforms.
Much of the scandalous revelations about private healthcare donations were made possible by the work of Spinwatch. Check out their work in this video. (Tamsin from the video, dropped by earlier today to meet us, and to look at the possibility of working with us which is very exciting!)
And many thanks to Saad who took photos for us – We love you!