Around 200 campaigners attended the 999 NHS Convention on Saturday 11 April in London to discuss building a united movement in defence of the NHS.
The organisers, GMB non-elected officers, are committed NHS campaigners who see a need to unite the vast though somewhat disparate movement of activists and campaigners around the country.
The 999 NHS Convention is one half of a group, 999 Call for the NHS, which split. This group marched 300 miles last summer in defence of the NHS. The other half of the split, still calling themselves 999 Call for the NHS, had their big conference to unite the movement at the end of February with a similar number of people attending. You can see where this might be going!
The agenda of this recent conference was organised around a series of top table speakers, each telling the audience of seasoned health campaigners how bad things are in the NHS. It was rightly very anti-Tory but wrongly too uncritical and undemanding of Labour.
Overall, it was a bit of stage-managed affair and at times in a not very canny way. Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick were invited to address the conference on their NHS Reinstatement Bill and therefore, generously lending the event some hard-hitting demands for a Labour government.
Regrettably discussion on the Bill was prevented so more top-table speakers could be heard. Then a cack-handed attempt to stop the conference voting on whether 999 NHS Convention adopts the Bill or supports it meant the event ended on a sour note.
Many disgruntled activists wondered what the purpose of the event really was. Shame!