Around twenty-five people joined a birthday celebration and protest outside West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, Cornwall today called by Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance. Today is the National Health Service's 63rd birthday and many people are concerned that it will not see its 64th in its current form. The action, like many across Britain today, was called to celebrate the NHS and its hard-working staff and to defend it from the attacks it currently faces from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill. Even in its altered form the bill increases the ability of private companies to make profit out of healthcare and is moving the NHS closer to the system of healthcare insurance found in many countries including in America.
From midday today local people assembled outside the hospital with a banner that read 'Save Our NHS:
Stop the Cuts'. There was also a cake that had been supplied, free of charge, by a local baker which read "Save our NHS, Happy Birthday, Celebrating 63 years, 1948-2011. After the protest the cake was taken inside the hospital and presented to the matron to give out to all the members of staff at the hospital. She accepted the cake and said she would give it out to staff.
A nurse told protestors, in confidence, that there is a lot of intimidation at the hospital and so it would be impossible for her or anyone she knows to join the celebration/protest. Despite this however, several members of staff said they supported what we were doing and would have joined us if they had felt able to. The hospital has had one ward containing 28 surgical beds closed, apparently for six months. However, there is much speculation as to whether or not the ward will open after the six months are over or indeed at all.
At Treliske Hospital in Truro, members of staff stood outside the hospital during their lunchbreak today and held hands to show them symbollically protecting the hospital from the attacks it faces from the government. The £20 billion efficiency savings the government is insisting the NHS finds but which should not affect 'frontline staff' is having a devastating effect on the hospital. The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust which has to make around £20 million savings is cutting 400 posts, some of which are clinical posts such as nurses. Already staff are reporting that nurses that have left are not being replaced, meaning that already overworked nurses are now having to work even harder.
Both actions have already been reported on Pirate FM and Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance will be meeting tomorrow night at 7pm at the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance to discuss the next steps in its campaign.