How far would you go to save the NHS? One man is running all the way from Cardiff to London. Dr Clive Peedell, a consultant in the NHS, started his journey at the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street, Cardiff, and since then has run (in stages, obviously) all the way to Witney.
This morning he spoke at a rally held on Witney’s Church Green about the government’s disastrous plans for the NHS. His point was that David Cameron is responsible for the Health and Social Care Bill, and that his constituents need to understand that. We also heard from Professor Alyson Pollock, author of NHS plc, and various other speakers including an American doctor who believed the US system should be working towards being like the NHS – not the other way round.
It’s an attention-grabbing and nicely symbolic action: start at the statue of the man who fought for the creation of the NHS and keep running all the way to 10 Downing Street. (The Witney stop-off was so that Dr Peedell and his fellow runner Dr David Wilson could deliver a postcard to David Cameron’s constituency office.) But mainstream media has been slow to pick up on it.
When I checked again at 2:30pm, I noticed that GP magazine Pulse had picked up on the story. The BMJ and the Banbury Guardian have also reported it, and I saw the Oxfordshire Guardian’s Lucy Copp at the Witney rally this morning.
But why is coverage restricted to medical publications and local newspapers? Where are the nationals? Surely when an NHS consultant chooses to run hundreds of miles to raise awareness of the problems with NHS reform, that’s news? Surely when he’s joined by another doctor, that’s even more newsworthy, especially since they’re both quite photogenic. And when the chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners says she’s joining them... still not national news? Really?
I don’t know if the nationals have a reason for ignoring this story – perhaps it doesn’t become “real” news until the runners reach London. My guess is that once one national paper picks up on it, others will follow. It’s just a shame they would rather copy each other than grab the chance to report this strong story from the start.
As I write, Dr Peedell and Dr Wilson are being photographed in Oxford’s Nye Bevan Close. They’ll then be speaking at a public meeting at the Friends Meeting House on St Giles at 7:30pm tonight. I wonder who will be there to report it.