Posts Tagged ‘Health Minister’

Doctors and Blood Diamonds – 2016

Sunday, February 6th, 2022

Doctors and Blood Diamonds – 2016

There is no real connection I’m aware of between doctors and blood diamonds other than the fact I photographed both protests on 6th February 2016 – and I thought it made a nice headline.

Valentines Israeli Blood Diamonds protest

My working day started on Old Bond Street in Mayfair, an area of London I generally try to avoid, packed with businesses which represent the true scum on the capitalist system and their customers largely representing those most successful at exploiting the system and the great majority of the population. While the City of London is still the world capital of dodgy financial management, Mayfair is where much of the more commercial aspects of our current system ply their trade.

There are no diamonds mined in Israel, but diamonds are Israel, largest manufacturing export – then at around $10 billion a year and contributing around $1 billion a year to Israeli military and security industries. In a direct connection the Steinmetz Diamonds Group which supplies companies including De Beers and Tiffany supports the Israeli Givati Brigade through the Steinmetz Foundation. One banner was a message from the Samouni family, 29 of whom were killed by the Givati Brigade in 2008 in cold blood.

A week before St Valentines Day, protesters stood outside diamond sellers including De Beers and Tiffanys with banners urging people not to buy engagement rings these shops that sell rings using diamonds from Israel’s Steinmetz Diamonds Group.


Junior Doctors Rally & March

I left for the short walk to Waterloo Place, where Junior Doctors and supporters were gathering for a rally against against the imposition of new contracts they say will destroy the NHS and make it unsafe for patients. Supporting them were many other medical professionals – consultants, GPs, nurses and others – who all saw the contract as a part of an attack on the NHS to move towards a privatised medical system.

Speaker after speaker – including Dame Vivienne Westwood, her son Ben, and Vanessa Redgrave as well as many medical professionals – stressed how Health Minister Jeremy Hunt Hunt was misleading the media and public about the need for changes in the contract, carefully selecting evidence that supports his case while ignoring the much wider evidence against it.

Dame Vivienne Westwood and Vanessa Redgrave at the rally

Among the many placards were those naming doctors who had already left the NHS to work abroad, with the message ‘You’ve driven me out Jeremy… Stop bleeding the NHS dry’. Others named junior doctors supporting of the protest who were unable to attend the protest because they were working in what is already a 24 hour 7 day profession.

The protesters marched to Downing St where they sat down blocking the road wearing surgical masks while a deputation went into Downing St to deliver a message to the prime minister; they emerged a few minutes later to announce that the people inside No 10 had refused to accept any message from them.

We have seen in the current pandemic how this and other changes made in recent years have put the NHS under severe strain. As I wrote in 2016:

Of course it isn’t just junior doctors; new income rules for immigrant workers are likely to lead to up to 30,000 nurses being deported, and the cutting of bursaries for nurses and now proposed for all other medical courses will have disastrous effects. Add to this the effects of PFI which is bankrupting hospitals leading to privatisations and its hard not to see the end of the NHS as we have known it as inevitable.

It’s almost certainly too late to save the NHS in its current incarnation. The only solution is the kind of radical change that happened before under Nye Bevan and others to create a new NHS. But for that we would need a new revitalised Labour party in power – or a people’s revolution. Don’t hold your breath – and don’t get old or ill.


More on both protests on My London Diary
Junior Doctors Rally & March
Valentines Israeli Blood Diamonds protest


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NHS Victory Parade in Lewisham: 2013

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Among years of gloom for the NHS, under various reorganisations which have furthered the Tory project for privatisation a few bright spots have stood out, mainly where local people have stood up and fought to retain NHS hospitals and their services. One of these was celebrated on 14th September 2013, when the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign held a community march through Lewisham past the hospital to a free celebration in Ladywell Fields of their High Court victory which overturned the government closure plans.

The government had planned to close most of Lewisham Hospital, a hospital serving a large area of South London simply to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals at Woolwich and Orpington through contracts that were badly negotiated under a Labour government when interest rates were high; these contracts had already by 2013 delivered huge profits to the banks with payments of over £60m a year.

The popular campaign was also backed by the London Borough of Lewisham and both the council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for judicial review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – and both were successful.

A new Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust was established in October 2013 as it states “following a period of intense controversy” and after early problems claims to have made considerable progress in maintaining a good service at the two hospitals in Lewisham and Woolwich including 24/7 emergency services at both as well as some other services in the area.

There had been previous large protests against the closure plans – which I photographed in November 2012 and January 2013 along with a couple of smaller events. But rather fewer came for the victory celebrations, which were led by a council dustcart with large posters on it. Behind the marchers were a couple of nurses in uniforms that they wore to take part in the Olympic opening ceremony, along with a small street band.

The parade ended in Ladywell Fields behind the hosptial, with live music, dancing and a children’s dance competition, although it and the parade were a little dampened by the continual light rain. But it was a good day for the people of Lewisham and for those of us who support an NHS free at the point of service, for “everyone – rich, or poor, man, woman or child” to “relieve your money worries in times of illness”.

Although they were celebrating victory, Jeremy Hunt had then yet to concede defeat, announcing the government would appeal against the decision. I think his advisers probably told him there seemed no chance an appeal would succeed and any appeal would simply waste public money. Eventually the policy was dropped.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

See also:

Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Nov 2012
Save Lewisham Hospital – Jan 2013


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