“The crisis in the NHS has been caused by political decisions.”
Words not from a Labour politician or even a trade unionist, but from (probably) the most intelligent person of our era.
Stephen Hawking, renowned 75-year-old physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, recently made a passionate speech condemning the Conservatives for slashing funding and weakening our NHS.
“The more profit is extracted from the system, the more private monopolies grow and the more expensive healthcare becomes. The NHS must be preserved from commercial interests and protected from those who want to privatise it,” he said.
Hawkins believes that a publicly provided, publicly run system is the “most efficient” and therefore those who say we cannot afford the NHS, are wrong.
He also said: “The political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on the junior doctors and removal of the student nurses’ bursary.”
After the words of Hawkins’ powerful speech were pre-released, the Secretary of State for Health wasn’t happy. Jeremy Hunt responded by doubting the scientific credibility of the winner of the Albert Einstein Award, the Fundamental Physics Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
While Hawkins is probably the cleverest famous person to stand up for the NHS, he is by no means the only award-winner to do so.
We thought we’d take a look at some other famous people who have taken a stand for the NHS – who also happen to have won more awards than Jeremy Hunt.
Welsh actor Michael Sheen – who has won a Laurence Olivier Award for best actor and for best supporting actor, amongst other awards – featured on the track by the National Health singers, founded by the Junior Doctors. He described the NHS as “world-envied care, based on your need not on your ability to pay.”
In 2013 NHS bosses wanted to halve the number of beds and cut around 350 jobs at The Whittington Hospital in London in a bid to save money.
Thousands joined a protest march, including singer and winner of The X Factor, several Brit awards and a MOBO – and soon to be seen on Strictly Come Dancing, Alexandra Burke.
Some other supporters of the NHS are the cast of cult comedy Green Wing, who collectively have won many awards including a BAFTA and a Rose d’Or.
— Dr Ben White (@drbenwhite) April 6, 2016
When UNISON members working in the NHS went on strike in 2014 many famous people supported you, one of whom was multiple award-winning author Caitlin Moran. She also frequently tweets her support for NHS services.
I’d like to thank the NHS Sexual Health Clinic on Holloway Road for the superlative service I had there yesterday.
— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) August 23, 2017
Ok we’re almost done. Dame Vivienne Westwood, winner of British designer of the year and an Order of the British Empire amongst other awards, is also a proud supporter of the NHS.
And Jeremy Hunt?
We struggled to find any accolades the current Secretary of state for Health has won that compare to any of the winners above. Though interestingly, The Last Leg tv programme, (whose presenters have won several awards), gave Hunt an award last year. You’ll have to google it.