In July 1948 every household in the country received a pamphlet about The New National Health Service… "It will provide you with all medical, dental and nursing care. Everyone – rich or poor, man, woman or child – can use it or any part of it. There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications. But it is not a `charity'. You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in times of illness…"
As the NHS gets more difficult to access, with creeping privatisation and closures all over the place – from Salford's own maternity unit to the threatened A&E at Bolton and Wigan Hospitals – those charged with its protection are accused of stabbing it in the back, in a new book NHS SOS: `How the NHS was betrayed and how we can save it'.
The book has contributions from a range of top medical professionals and NHS campaigners including Oliver Huitson (Open Democracy), Dr John Lister (London Health Emergency), Stewart Player (The Plot Against the NHS), Prof Allyson Pollock (Queen Mary, U of L), David Price (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Charles West (Lib-Dem candidate) and Dr David Wrigley (BMA GP committee).
It also comes complete with endorsements from Booker Prize winning author Julian Barnes and director Ken Loach, who has just done the ace film The Spirit of '45 about the birth of the Welfare State.
"Across society, there is a realisation that the National Health Service is one of our greatest social achievements and that to keep it is an enormous political challenge" says Loach "This book is a weapon in that struggle."
Julian Barnes adds: "When you turn round and notice that the NHS as you have known it no longer exists – its principles rewritten, its ownership and services alienated – you might wonder exactly who did exactly what to this much-admired institution.. NHS SOS presents the lethargy, dishonesty and corruption without which this executive coup would not have come about. It is a cogent, sobering and necessary read."
All profits from NHS SOS go to the Keep Our NHS Public campaign, and at the launch event on Friday Professor Raymond Tallis, co-editor of the book with Dr Jacky Davis, will outline how successive governments have undermined the much loved British institution.
As a taster, he writes in the book that "we must not allow this jewel in the crown of the welfare state to be destroyed by those whose rapacious self-interest has rendered them unable to comprehend any nation of the public good or public service".
Friday's event at the Working Class Movement Library is being organised by Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public, and its secretary, Hugh Caffrey, says "The north west campaign is proud to launch this important book which will be a great boost to our struggle locally to encourage people to stand with us in campaigning to save local A&E's across the region".
NHS SOS `How the NHS was betrayed and how we can save it'
With a talk by Professor Raymond Tallis followed by a discussion
Friday 12th July 5:30pm
Working Class Movement Library
The Crescent – click here for directions
For more details see www.keepournhspublic.com
To read more about the work of Professor Raymond Tallis see his website http://www.raymondtallis.com