Dorset Left Unity members in successful campaign against local NHS privatisation

Seán Gray of Dorset Left Unity writes.

Dorset Left Unity members have played a key role in a 6 month campaign to stop the proposed privatisation of pathology services at Dorset County Hospital. NHS bosses hoped to transfer these services to a Somerset based facility managed by Sodexo. We helped to mobilise a broad coalition which took a petition out on the streets of West Dorset towns, several days each week, from April to October.

Support from local people was amazing and by the time the hospital directors met to make a final decision campaigners had collected over 12,000 signatures. The campaign offered the local media a number of opportunities for reporting – including a candlelight vigil outside the hospital prior to an important board meeting. Coverage in local press and radio was particularly helpful – the media will usually respond when they can get good photos!

Left Unity members viewed the campaign as an opportunity to highlight the threat of privatisation to local people. I’m not sure that we were at all confident of winning this particular battle.  However, the campaign gathered so much local support that the NHS Trust withdrew their original proposal and decided to keep pathology services “in-house”.

We have continued our commitment to the anti-privatisation campaign. In the last month we have been involved with canvassing local residents to display  “NHS Not for Sale” boards outside their homes. This led to a three page “spread” in the local paper.

One of our local MPs is Oliver Letwin. Letwin, author of “Privatizing the World”, is a long time enemy of the NHS and one if the main architects of the Health and Social Care Act.  We hope that by the time of the general election everyone in his constituency knows how he really feels about the local NHS.

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