What do we want to do?
We’re looking to get enough money to pay a team of five people to work out how to organise the largest NHS event in history. This follows on from the success of Bring Back the NHS, an event held before the last general election, hosted by Sir Ian McKellen and featuring Danny Boyle, Charlotte Church, and Sir Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society, among others. Check it out here.
Where would the money go?
We’d use the money to pay five of the original organisers £14 an hour, for five hours a week (outside of their day jobs) over ten weeks (amount above includes Crowdfunder fees). They’d produce a plan, connect networks, contact speakers and venues, leverage media relationships, and develop a political strategy. At the end, they’d have a full budget (i.e. how much more we’d need to raise), a plan to deliver the whole thing, and be some of the way to organizing it. These people have extensive professional experience in event management and delivery and political strategy and campaigning.
Why are we suggesting this?
It is likely that the British population have little understanding of the problems facing the NHS and the recent history of changes to its funding and organisation. NHS campaigning groups, unions, some political parties, and other groups aim to educate people as well as mobilise them in action to overturn damaging changes to the health service. Often, these efforts are hindered by an unresponsive or hostile media, the complexity of the subject matter, and the low status the NHS’s true discontents are afforded in the political narrative, among other factors.
As in many other campaigning areas, showpiece events may be effective in raising the profile of causes, helping close the ‘awareness gap’ by attracting media attention and providing campaigning groups with a focal point for their activities in the moment, and after the event.
In 2015, a small group of NHS campaigners and other concerned citizens organised an event called Bring Back the NHS, which aimed to provide such a platform before the general election of that year. The event was held on Friday, 24th April in Central Hall, Westminster, London. Hosted by Ian McKellen, it featured a range of speakers from within the health service and beyond, including Danny Boyle, Charlotte Church, and Sir Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society. It brought together a group united by a love and passion for the work of the NHS as well as a severe concern for its present and future state. The NHS does not just need protecting in its current form, it needs to be brought back to its founding principles.
The event was delivered within a month, by a team of volunteers, and cost around £15,000, of which the majority was spent on renting the venue. It attracted over 1,200 attendees, trended in the top five on Twitter, and was covered by some foreign broadcasters.
We think that a larger event could, if effectively delivered, raise significant media attention, providing a boost in profile for the NHS that could be used by campaigners as a means to reach and mobilise a wider audience. Without reaching a wider audience, the future of the NHS will be determined by the current government and not the people who treat and are treated in the NHS.