A blue brackground with a rainbow and the words "NHS new deal" on top

“First we clapped, now we act” enthuse the activists behind Just Treatment. The grassroots campaign aims to win mass support for its crowdsourced demands to rebuild a stronger National Health Service (NHS) in the aftermath of COVID-19. With the input of at least one person in every UK constituency, an NHS New Deal would be transformative and people-powered.

Just Treatment formed in June 2017. Its biggest achievement to date has been the Plan B on Orkambi campaign, which made the drug Orkambi available on the NHS for children with cystic fibrosis. The drug company, Vertex, had initially priced it so high that the NHS couldn’t afford it. The group has also run campaigns focused on breast cancer drugs; in November 2017, they successfully got Pfizer to drop the price of their drug Ibrance.

Now, Just Treatment wants to support and strengthen the NHS on a much broader scale. Activists believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened an NHS that was already fragile. The New Deal envisions an NHS run by and for the people, one that is better able to manage crises and give everyone “an equal chance to enjoy the freedom of a healthy life” It also insists that “our care is not a commodity” and seeks to end the privatisation of NHS services.

On 25 January 2021, Just Treatment launched its NHS New Deal campaign via an online Zoom event. More than 300 people from across the UK joined the call. Speakers included NHS medical doctor and activist Sonia Adesara and children’s writer Michael Rosen, who spent six weeks on a ventilator with coronavirus. NHS patients also contributed their personal stories. Adesara shared her experiences from the frontline both before and during the pandemic. She also spoke about the “relentless outsourcing of NHS services to the private sector in recent years” that has caused care to be “seen as a commodity to be profited from”. In September 2020, NHS For Sale?, a group of researchers and journalists, published a snapshot of NHS outsourcing failures. Rosen has spoken publicly about his own experience and believes he “owes [his] life to the NHS”.

The NHS New Deal insists COVID-19 “has shown that politicians can do big things – if there is enough pressure.” Just Treatment is now calling on the public to act and campaign for lasting, positive change within the NHS. There are several ways to get involved:

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