NHS

I was a post-war baby. Just, born a week after Hitler packed it in though the war was still continuing against Japan. So I grew up in our post-war welfare state, drinking clinic orange juice and cod liver oil, and from the age of three enjoyed the free healthcare provided by the National Health Service. The nation was rightly proud of a public service that was comprehensive, based on clinical need and not the ability to pay and free at the point of delivery.

It’s hard not to see the Health and Social Care Bill, recently passed by parliament as anything but an attack on the principles of the NHS,  and as someone who is now  reliant on it – and liable to be increasingly so in future – I personally feel uneasy. We’ve seen the kind of short cuts and poor service that private providers have been responsible for in other areas. The kind of companies that will be involved have shown that they are interested only in making profits and not in providing high quality services.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

If I had not been photographing the protests against the bill on 7 March I might well have been there protesting, although the pouring rain might have put me off. I don’t often photograph holding an umbrella, but there was no choice when I started taking pictures – I needed it to keep the rain off the lens, and even wiping the filter with a cloth immediately before each exposure I still had some images spoiled by water droplets on the glass.  But at least the wet conditions did give some reflections on what would otherwise have been a rather empty pavement.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The protest was meant to be a human chain around St Thomas’s Hospital, opposite Parliament where the bill was being debated, but there weren’t enough people to go all the way round. And getting everyone to keep holding hands wasn’t easy, especially as many were holding placards. The picture above, taken on a corner using the 10.5 mm starts with a placard. It was perhaps a pity that the closed stall with its St George’s flags rather blocked the view of the hospital.

The 10.5 gives a very wide angle of view, and I used it for quite a few situations at this event, despite its slightly bulbous unprotected front element being a tremendously efficient rain drop collector. It also let me show both the protest and the Houses of Parliament in a single image, though the protest banner is only very small in the image.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Like most of the images I take with the lens, this has been corrected to a cylindrical perspective, making the verticals straight rather than curved. The balustrade of the bridge is in reality straight too, though in the image it appears to curve through something approaching 90 degrees. The two banks of the river are of course roughly parallel rather than converging as shown, and the horizontal angle of view of the picture is around 145 degrees.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

The protests continued throughout the day with a lobby of parliament and protest opposite it:

© 2012, Peter Marshall

It was still raining for the lobby, but fortunately by the time for the doctors and students to march at around 5pm it had stopped.

© 2012, Peter Marshall

© 2012, Peter Marshall

Though of course it soon got dark, and by this time I think the water had affected my flash which was working only as and when it pleased.

More pictures on My London Diary:

Doctors & Students NHS March
NHS Not For Sale Lobby
Save Our NHS Human Chain

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My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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