Defending the NHS

The National Health Service, has for nearly 70 years provided a cost effective, universal health service, free at the point of need to all people irrespective of their background, circumstance or ability to pay. Over the history of SIS, we have worked similarly to our ‘rights’ and ‘inclusiveness’ value; SIS continues to provide face to face interpreting for anyone with a language need.

As a result of the 2014 Immigration Act, there is a real culture of hostility towards migrants with increasing incidents of racism and discrimination now visible. In recent years this hostility has been compounded by the Brexit dialogue and has fostered further divisions in our society.

SIS believes strongly that we need to speak up for people who might not be able to speak up for themselves. We want to ensure our service users and others in our local community do not feel put off, or suffer from racism or discrimination when there are damaging external incidents, such as the Paris bombings, or the Manchester Arena Bombing. We support the view of the UN high commissioner who says that the UK needs to stop using alarmist language and toxic vocabulary.

As a consequence of the Immigration Act many vulnerable people are now also subject to upfront and unnecessary charging when accessing healthcare. SIS remains actively opposed to such a position and believes strongly that we have a role to play with other groups in the city who share similar values, to raise awareness of and challenge extended charging in the NHS.

Sussex Defend the NHS is a network of nearly 3000 local campaigners, health workers, and trade-union activists with no affiliation to any political party. They are active in raising awareness of how years of cuts, piecemeal privatisation and re-organisation mean has seen rationing of such service with a trend towards running of such services for profit rather than for the run for profit rather than for the benefit of the patients and the staff who care for them.

They along with other groups in Brighton, have worked on a Pledge to challenge extended and upfront charging in the NHS. They consider this extended charging is part of the hostile environment created to dehumanise migrants, refugees, workers from other countries and, many others. SIS attended the launch of the Pledge where speakers spoke about the need for accessibility to free health services for all, and its importance within communities and how the hostile environment impacts negatively on us all in one way or another; Many immigrants are legitimately resident in UK, yet are increasingly having to prove their eligibility repeatedly when accessing services to which they are entitled.

SIS has signed the Pledge hosted on the Sussex Defend the NHS website and which is available for both individuals and organisations to sign.

A few colleagues from Sussex Defend the NHS will be joining SIS at our AGM on February 28th to introduce their work, and the Pledge, and how we can all become involved in raising awareness of and challenging the erosion of our health services.

If you feel passionate about ensuring that NHS services should be free at the point of delivery for all, and want to know more about the Pledge and how you can contribute, please join us at our at our AGM