Saturday 5th May saw another Save our NHS demonstration.
Starting at college green, there were many different speakers from various unions and nurses unions, talking about their continued efforts in fighting the new Social Care and Health Reform bill that passed last month. Demonstrators then marched through the centre to Broadmead, St NIcks, ending up full circle at college green for round 2 of talks.
Amongst many of the changes to our once public NHS, we have witnessed the privatisation of NHS by companies such as ‘Virgin Healthcare’ who brought Assura Medical NHS Clinics in 2010 (more info here), and who recently secured a £500million contract for community services in South and North West Surrey, sexual health services in Milton Keynes (oh the irony), and a dermatology service in the Isle of Wight. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/04/495173.html They continue to buy up parts of what is now, the healthcare ‘market’.
In order to spread awareness of these seemingly hushed over changes to the NHS, we took to the streets on the day of the march dressed as Virgin Healthcare Sale Consultants to offer up our Virgin Healthcare Mega Sale Buy One Get One Free day offer on all our healthcare products. Among many of our amazing deals, was the chance to top up your phone by £30 and get a FREE consultation with your local GP.
Astoundingly, many people either thought this was a good deal or commented that they were on a different contract. It seemed our convincing attire and approach was far too cunning for people to break down and listen to the actual words we were saying, proving this form of invisible theatre to be a very effective one. Many people were surprised to find out that the NHS had been privatised at all, let alone Virgin’s involvement.
Pushing the ‘Virgin on the ridiculous’ theme, we pushed our lingo to the extremes with pitches such as ‘Buy One Kindey, Get the Second free’, ‘Free Wi-Fi with every Operation’, ‘Introduce a sick friend to us today, and we’ll give you 10% discount on all healthcare for the next 2 months- your illness is our profit’, leaving them with a ‘please get ill soon’ farewell. It seemed even this rhetoric was not obvious enough for some, and our attempts at flogging our new Swine Flu type epidemic, ‘Porcupinitus’ to introduce to their friends, wasn’t even enough to shake the alarm bells of tom-foolery awake. One man happily said he would look out for our new bottled air product- ‘Virgin Air’- on the shelves; a real, (and sad) testament to how media and marketing has seeped it’s selling ways in to all aspects of some people’s lives.
We asked people how they felt about paying for their illness; how much they were willing to pay (some were horrified, some were quite willing); how they felt about a billionaire like Branson making money from their health and handed out leaflets with facts on Virgin’s take over. We even managed to convince the staff and manager at Virgin Media that we were from the Virgin Healthcare team, allowing us to stay in the shop, and give out our leaflets before leaving them on the counter for customers to take.
All in all a successful day, and I hope we managed to make more people aware about the rapid profiteering of shameless companies such as Virgin and all the rest of the supposed ‘Customer Care Commision Groups’. Through humour yet again, we raged.
Video to come soon…
Many thanks to all who came, performed, listened, believed and dis-believed. And remember to keep asking questions; not everything you read or hear is true, especially if it comes from the mouths of a Virgin Sales Rep. (No Virgin Sales reps were harmed in the making of this event. Daddy Branson would have been proud)