Book review; NHS SOS – a weapon in the struggle to save the NHS


NHS SOS How the NHS was betrayed – and how we can save it

Edited by Jacky Davis & Raymond Tallis   ONEWORLD PUBLICATIONS £8.99

nhs sos 2

Ken Loach is clear about the importance of NHS SOS; Across society, there is a realisation that the National Health Service is one of the greatest social achievements and that to keep it is an enormous political challenge.  This book is a weapon in that struggle.

Edited by Raymond Tallis and  Dr. Jacky Davis it is a difficult book to read as in  chapter after chapter we see the way in which determined neo-liberals hacked away at a cherished British institution, the NHS.  More disturbing is that the organisations which we expect to defend it, did not, and in many instances  stood aside as the butchery took place.  At the end, however, the authors, offer hope that,  in the NHS’s 65th  year, the real owners of the NHS, the people,  can still  save it from extinction.

Davis is a radiologist and co-founder of Keep Our National Health Service Public. She  became involved in politics because of what she saw happening in the NHS.

Jacky Davis

Jacky Davis

In 2005 with John Lister of Health Emergency, the NHS Consultant Association, and Allyson Pollock and several other people we started the Keep Our National Health Service Public (KONP) because of what Labour were doing to the NHS.

Davis feels that in power Labour “loosened the screws on the NHS” and  that the present Conservative Government have aggressively pushed privatisation and dismemberment of the service.

NHS SOS is a devastating read as it exposes the way in which a few people in the government pushed through legislation,  including the Health and Social Care Act of 2012;

It is an absolute scandal that they stole the NHS from under our noses. It was a shocking betrayal of democracy that it was allowed to happen whilst people stood around and allowed it to happen.

Davis  and her co-writers  do not pull any punches. They lay the blame   not just on the Tories and their allies the Liberal Democrats,   but also  lambast their own medical profession, the media, the trade unions and the Labour Party.

It is extremely disappointing  that over the last two years lies were told, politicians did not declare their interests and people could vote on something they had a financial interest in.

Davis is angry,  but she is not defeated by what has happened and the purpose of the book is to bring together the various individuals and organisations that are horrified by the prospect of the new NHS.

We wrote the book to tell people what has happened and also to show people what they can do about it.

A whole section at the end of the book gives advice on what people can do to save the NHS. Organisations such as KONP and London Health Emergency are just two of the organisations that are leading the campaign. All the proceeds from the book will go to KONP. One of the characteristics of the campaign is the range of people who are becoming involved, including many women and older people,  as Davis comments:

One of the groups becoming involved are pensioners because they remember what it was like before the NHS when you had to scrape money together to pay for a visit to the doctor.

And whilst Davis wants to encourage people outside political organisations to get involved with the campaign she is sanguine about the response of Labour;

Andy Burnham has said that when he is Health Minister he will reverse the changes but the question is what are they willing to do about it when they are in office.

There are also bigger issues that will affect the NHS,  including new legislation from Europe about tendering and competition,  which will affect countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Davis believes strongly that it is people power that can make a difference:

This is our NHS and we have got to fight for it. It doesn’t belong to the politicians and we can get it back,   but we’ve got to hit the streets and there is no question about that.

nhs protests mcr

If you want to find out more about what is happening to the NHS you can

  • Join Keep Our National Health Service Public
  • Meet up with like minded people at the 65 anniversary events this weekend
  • Listen to Raymond  Tallis at Bramhall Village Hall on 6 July or the Working Class Movement Library on 12 July Further details see
  • If you have enjoyed this article and would like to support this blog by making a donation you can do using this button

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About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. I am a member of the Manchester and Salford National Union of Journalists.If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
This entry was posted in anti-cuts, book review, human rights, Ken Loach, Manchester, NHS, political women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Book review; NHS SOS – a weapon in the struggle to save the NHS

  1. Pingback: Essential reading | Keep Our NHS Public

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