Let us keep this bill highly visible

I write this on the day that many NHS staff have reluctantly opted for a four-hour strike and a week-long work-to rule where, as a change, they take their statutory breaks and don’t do overtime for free.

A Unison survey shows that three quarters of staff say their team is understaffed and they are worried about patient safety as a result.

I have just emerged from North Tyneside General Hospital with a new NHS hip and deep gratitude for the treatment I received, before, during and after my three-day stay.

The orthopaedic team, from the surgeon to the healthcare assistant, nurses and orderlies, were superb, although I could see at times the staff were extremely stretched.

My home is fitted out with a wide selection of furniture and aids by North Tyneside Council.

At home I have supportive phone calls enquiring after my progress, and was able to ring the ward late at night with a medication query.

Yet how are we serving those who serve us so well?

The NHS is callously being dismantled by this government and sold off to their friends in high places.

A bid from an American arms dealer to run our GP services is being considered, and Richard Branson has offered to take over the NHS.

My Labour MP Alan Campbell voted to support the Private Members’ NHS bill introduced to the Commons on November 21. The vote was won, but only 17 Tories bothered to turn up to argue against it.

An extract from Campbell’s letter to me: “The government’s approach of allowing private companies to cherry-pick the most profitable NHS services, whilst wasting money on economic regulators and competition lawyers, is preventing the NHS from meeting the challenges of the 21st century.”

Private Members’ bills can disappear in the pipeline. To avoid an insurance-mode US-style health system which serves only those who can afford it and its private shareholders, let’s keep this one highly visible.

Joan Hewitt

People’s Assembly Northeast