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Feb 27th, 2015

How to guide: collecting signatures for the NHS

By Rachel Oliver


Many people will sign the petition because they already agree with us, and some people will simply walk past you or say no. But others will want to talk to you a bit more about it before signing. We’ve produced answers to some of the most common questions that get asked.

Remember, this is a tool for you to use in conversations. You don’t need to memorise it or quote it word for word; it’s there for you to use if you want to.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert.  Talk about your experience of the NHS and why it’s important to you. Talk about why a health service that’s free at the point of delivery is important, and ask people what kind of a world they want to live in.  You could talk about how a health care system should be focused on saving lives, not making money.

Here are some ideas for answers to some of the tricky questions that people may ask you:

Q. What do you want?

A. This is a petition to every candidate to be our MP in the general election in May. We want them to promise that they’ll do all they can to protect our NHS from privatisation. That means stopping privatisation, making sure it has the money it needs, and stop it being undermined by international corporations.

Q. How will I help save the NHS by signing a petition?

A. In the lead up to an election it can make a huge difference. Now’s the time to take advantage of the fact that they have to listen to what we say.  Politicians are fighting over who’ll win the election here and experts say it might come down to a few votes. They’re desperate to impress us. They know that votes will be tight – so let’s show them how many of us will be thinking about the NHS as they weigh up who to vote for.

Q. This won’t help. Politicians say one thing before the election and another after. Don’t they?

A. Yes, we’ve experienced disappointments from a lot of politicians, haven’t we? That’s exactly why we have to put this pressure on politicians in public, and spread the word as far as we can. And we won’t be taking them at their word; we’ll be following up this petition with other ways to pile on the pressure – like public meetings – before and after the election. We can make sure they’re held to account.

It’s already happening. In the last few years, more and more services have been quietly privatised. Everything from GPs, to ambulance services, to whole hospitals are now privately run for profit.

Q. I heard the NHS costs 2 billion pounds a week to run. Isn’t that too much?

A. It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But the USA – which has a private healthcare system – spends almost twice as much per head on healthcare as us. The UK was recently voted the most efficient health care system in the world by an international panel of experts.

Private companies have one job: to make money. Too often their idea of “waste” is “anything that gets in the way of turning a profit.” We think that the health service should be about saving lives, not making money. But more importantly, the NHS is the safety net that means that none of us have to worry that we can’t afford to get ill. It benefits us all.

In general, it’s hard to find an A&E department that isn’t under strain, a GP with appointments to spare or hospital staff who aren’t under pressure. And the main reason the NHS is in crisis is because it’s been run down and neglected by politicians.

Q. There are other more important things to spend money on (housing, education etc)

A. Housing is important. Education is important. But our NHS is really important too. People shouldn’t go through life worrying that they can’t afford to be sick.

Here’s some facts and articles about what the politicians are doing to our NHS:

  • NHS experts have made it clear that it’s make or break time for our health service. Politicians need to know that if they want our vote in May, saving our NHS should be their top priority. [1]

  • In 2012 the government made big changes to the NHS. Since these changes have come into force, a third of all NHS contracts have gone to private firms. [2]

  • Over the last few years politicians have turned their back on the principles our NHS was built on – an NHS that’s owned by all of us, and works to save lives, not make money. They’ve under-funded vital services and sold others off to private companies. [3]

  • Recently we’ve started to see the result of these political choices – crises in A&Es across the country, elderly people waiting on hospital beds because of a lack of care in their community, and patients waiting weeks for a GP appointment [4]

  • Billions of pounds is lost from corporations and wealthy individuals not paying their fair share of tax. If our politicians cracked down on tax dodging, we could afford to fund our health service properly. [5]

  • 26 countries – including France, Germany and the US – spend more money on their health care than the UK. [6]

  • December last year saw news reports of police regularly having to take people to hospital because of shortages in available ambulances. [7]

  • In December the Independent reported that cuts to social care has led to thousands of patients taking up hospital beds because they cannot access care in the community. [8]

  • GPs received £943m less funding in the last three years, and studies show that less GP care means more people heading to A&E. [9]


[1] http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/commissioning/85-of-gps-believe-nhs-will-be-privatised-within-ten-years/20007870.article#.VPCwAfmsVqU


[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30397329

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/oct/17/nhs-cuts-impact-on-patients-revealed

[4] http://www.itv.com/news/2014-12-17/there-is-absolutely-a-winter-crisis-says-senior-nhs-consultant/


[5] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fatcat-fund-managers-dodge-700million-5187932

[6] http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3063

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-30580783

[8] http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/english-aes-reach-breaking-point-after-worstever-week-9936870.html

[9] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/03/doctors-accuse-coalition-spending-cut-surgeries


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