This is a guest post from a doctor currently working in the NHS who will be taking part in UK Uncut’s Christmas Special this Saturday. You can find another post by someone who’s voting for Vodafone here
The NHS is facing the biggest financial squeeze in its history. Across the country, diagnostic tests are being delayed, operations are being postponed and access to many patented drugs are being tightened.
Meanwhile, Philip Green sails across turquoise waters on a yacht paid for by British people: the people who buy his clothes and support his brand, but to whom he does not feel he owes anything.
For us in the NHS, not a week passes when there is not a report about understaffed and under-equipped wards leading to inadequate care and patients being exposed to risks. Sometimes I wonder if Philip Green thinks about that when he looks at his bank balance.
Study budgets for doctors are being cut year on year and access to professional development resources has been withdrawn to save money. The future clinical leaders of the NHS are not receiving the training they need as there is no money to fund it.
It’s not fair.
It’s not fair that the Government is using the financial crisis to purposefully run the NHS into the ground. It’s not fair that the Government are slowly strangling the NHS into submission as a means to introduce the private sector into the British healthcare. And it’s not fair that a government advisor, knighted by the Queen, should use dodgy loopholes to avoid paying £285m he rightfully owes.
We are told “We are all in this together”, we are told that we all have to face tough times as one. How contradictory it is, then, to see the likes of Phillip Green sitting on vast sums of money, using legal loopholes to avoid paying into the society that has put him where he is, and for the NHS that will be there if he needs it.
When hard-working public sector staff (many with high levels of student and personal debt) are working extra hours, paying more into their pensions, paying more tax and National Insurance, and facing a pay-freeze in real terms; to see a Government advisor like Phillip Green avoiding tax to the scale that he is, is frankly astonishing.
The £285 million that Green owes the taxpayer would not save the NHS on its own; but it certainly would make a huge difference. Debt-ridden hospitals currently cancelling operations would be out of the red; nurses could be employed to staff the understaffed wards and patients could be allowed access to drugs that they need.
I don’t want to see Phillip Green make an altruistic, charitable donation to British society. I don’t want him pay tax because he thinks it’s right. I want him to pay because we, as a society, know it’s right – because we refuse to live in a country doesn’t care for the sick because it’s not profitable. I want to live in a society where those that can afford it pay their way so that people are cared for when they most need it. It’s what makes us civilized.
If there’s one thing Philip Green has shown it’s that he doesn’t care much about civilization. Vote to target Topshop and Arcadia for UK Uncut’s Christmas Special, and let’s bring civil society to Philip Green’s doorstep. Let’s show him what civil society – the real Big Society, if you like – can do. Let’s teach in Topshop, bail into Burtons, and set up an NHS in BHS. If Philip Green wants to trade in Britain, he has to pay in Britain. It’s time we showed him that, like some of his recent clothing ventures, tax dodging has gone right out of fashion.
This Saturday 17th December, people all over the country will be shutting down high streets branches of either Vodafone or Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia empire as part of UK Uncut’s Christmas Special. Vote now in the run-off, read the callout then check the actions list for an action near you!