Brighton health campaigner hopes flower protest will blossom

Posted On 28 Jun 2011 at 10:45 pm
By Nick Owen

A Brighton man who spent a day giving flowers to doctors to thank them for their work has launched a new campaign against the proposed NHS reforms.

Sean de Podesta, a community worker and leader of the Not Enough Vases campaign, has declared next week as Brighton and Hove NHS Affirmation Week, starting on Monday (4 July)

The “protest of gratitude” begins with a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 29 June) and will coincide with the 63rd anniversary of the NHS.

Mr de Podesta, 57, said: “Virtually everyone in this country either owes their life, or is close to someone who owes their life or health, to the NHS.

“I believe that there are not enough vases in the country to hold the flowers that would adequately represent the debt we owe to the NHS.”

During Brighton and Hove NHS Affirmation Week, Mr de Podesta would like to see peaceful demonstrations outside every GP surgery, hospital and therapy centre in Brighton.

The campaigner is encouraging protesters to give carnations and thank you cards to patients as they enter medical centres to give to their doctors as a thank you for their treatment.

He said: “Most people in this country take the availability of free healthcare for granted.

“The NHS makes the news when mistakes occur or when it is in some sort of local crisis.

“The millions of routine patient contacts, the millions of ills routinely alleviated, the lives saved – these are rarely news.”

Mr de Podesta began the campaign in February to bring the Health and Social Care Bill to the wider attention of the public with his “ON Our Street We Say NO” (ONNO) protest.

The aim of ONNO was to gather petitions against the bill from every street across the city.

In April he started Not Enough Vases by handing out flowers to patients at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Eastern Road, Brighton.

And now he has teamed up with the Brighton Keep Our NHS Public group and hopes to set an example for other cities, towns and communities across the country.

A spokesman for Keep Our NHS Public said: “The situation is grave.

“The end result of these reforms will undermine the choice that is most important to patients – access to comprehensive, trustworthy and local health services.”

The bill was due to be discussed by a committee of MPs today.

Labour MPs called for the entire bill to be re-examined, arguing that concessions had changed it beyond recognition.

But Health Minister Simon Burns said: “We feel very strongly that this would unnecessarily delay the progress of the bill to the ultimate detriment of patients.”

Islean Kinghorn, 25, a newly qualified doctor, said: “When I first started training to become a doctor I didn’t expect to be working in the NHS that the government is now proposing.

“I was told a few years ago that I should expect the NHS to change but I never really imagined it would change for the worse so much so soon.”

The public meeting about Brighton and Hove NHS Affirmation Week starts at 7pm tomorrow (Wednesday 29 June) at the Friends Meeting House in Ship Street, Brighton.

  1. Suvarna Sansom Reply

    Re:- Mr de Podesta, 57, said: “Virtually everyone in this country either owes their life, or is close to someone who owes their life or health, to the NHS.

    I do not fall into this category. My Lupus was misdiagnosed in 1990, followed by incremental decline to my health, up to this day and I have not blossomed. In fact I would have been better off if I had not seen the dermatologist Dr Price who appeared to think pregnancy would put it in remission. Her advice cost me my life. I will be seeing Prof. Hughes privately at London Bridge hospital due to my care being cut off at Royal Sussex County Hospital, they cut-off my care as they claimed I was asking too many questions about the needless steroid treatment I feel I received in October 2009. Their renal nurse sent me emails telling me that blood kits were faulty and could not be trusted. Later she refused to get me my medicine, and I had words with her. They failed to re-assure me about blood kits and failed to hear my distress. I am on valium as I cannot cope. If Selbie was genuine he would have done his utmost to reassure me I received good care. But instead he used a smoke screen to decline my care.

    I genuinely feel that there are good doctors and bad doctors. I would give a flower to Dr Lever, but the renal dept. and Ed Kingdon have terminated my care, so I cannot give a flower to one doctor who promised NOT to harm me.

    I support health reforms e.g. more accountability from doctors and people like Selbie, and Ombudsman who have no teeth to investigate patient concerns.

  2. Suvarna Sansom Reply

    I am relieved to see that the role of the Ombudsman and complaints procedures are to be reviewed. My complaint/others have been badly handled, as well as at the Ombudsman level. For example, The conclusion reached by Ombudsman over my serious concerns in my health were along the lines that my care from the local nhs was “not unreasonable”. Surely the nhs as a world class health service should be aiming for excellence in care? Moreover hey did not challenge the fact that I received “routine” treatment rather than individualised care designed for my special needs. The problem with this is that poor performing doctors /consultants have the permission to continue giving sub-standard mechanised care to patients whereby harmful medicines are casually given, when we should be treated as s individuals with our special needs due to dangers of damage accrual as in my case i.e. diabetes was speeded up as the consequences of harm were not considered by Dr Jordon and Dr Kingdon. There was no proper weighing up of pros and cons of treating an already damaged patient, and mental and physical trauma damage can bring, which it has. The objective of a caring physician should certainly not be to give “routine “ and “reasonable care” as the idea is to prolong quality of life for as long as possible – by giving person-centred holistic care – as in the long run such patients are a burden to the nhs, to their spouses, families, society and the economy, if mismanaged. I am glad to see that MPs like Dorrell are addressing patient concerns and the importance of accountability in the nhs.

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