We don’t need more volunteers – We need a protected public service sector

The ‘Big Society’ is an idea that needs to die.

Recently, the Mail (whoever else?) called for an army of volunteers to support the NHS. This is an idea that dates back to Cameron’s ‘big society’ where the vision was that the general public would step in to look after one another. Liberals in the UK have fawned over the Mail and even expressed their shock that it came from such a right wing publication. This is evidence z of just why centrists should never be listened to.

This idea is absolute condescension as well as being exploitative. The UK already has one of the most incredible volunteer forces in the world. Yet, volunteering is routinely treated as unpaid labour and this is yet another example. The NHS does not need volunteers. It needs professional workers. It needs doctors, nurses, carers, physiotherapists, therapists, cleaners, admin workers, porters – all of which require appropriate training and/or qualifications. Not only that, but all work should be paid. We don’t have a basic income in the UK and therefore people should not be expected to take on extra responsibilities for free, when actually if the government simply invested in the NHS then our healthcare service would not need unpaid labour.

 “This idea is absolute condescension as well as being exploitative”

It is not a positive sign when our country is being held up by unpaid labour, particularly when poverty rates are alarming and people are forced to ‘volunteer’ or else have their social security removed. The NHS has consistently been undermined by years of underfunding. It is stretching our health care service to the brink, which is incredibly worrying given that winter is now upon us and it come to be expected as standard for us to have a winter health crisis.

Calling for volunteers to support the NHS is a betrayal. If you want to defend the NHS then campaign for it be properly funded and for privatisation to end. The NHS deserves proper support, not desperate gimmicks.

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