This May Hurt a Bit

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Islington Pensioners went to the St James Theatre last week to see Out of Joint’s excellent production ‘This May Hurt a Bit’, where we bumped in Neil Kinnock who was involved with advising on the character of Nye Bevan played by Hywel Morgan, shown here with Neil in the bar afterwards.


One of our members, Pam, did a review of the play:



Several member of the forum went to see the play ‘This May Hurt a Bit’ at the St James Theatre on 12th June.  This play is an accurate portrayal of what is happening to our NHS. It is brilliantly acted, with Stephanie Cole playing the leading role (Iris) and the other seven excellent actors playing more than one role each.

The play shows how the market-driven policies and the complicated Act brought in by the coalition are undermining the structure of the NHS . This top-down reorganisation, which Cameron promised would not happen, is fragmenting the service and introducing competition into our NHS, which above all needs cooperation, one sector with another, and not a market. It is our health not baked beans that this is about.

The play begins with the PM looking at the 354 pages of the Act, and being told by a civil servant that the British Medical Association, the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners,
Nursing, Midwives, Pathologists, Radiologists, Psychiatrists, Ophthalmologists, as well as organisations representing physiotherapists, occupational therapists, college of Emergency Medicine, Public Health, and unions are all against the Bill.  So the civil servant advises the PM to say that general practitioners and patients will be “empowered” and to blame the elderly (“the ageing population is a drain on the NHS”) and so we have to reorganise the NHS. It always works.

This all sounds grim and indeed it is, but the play is very funny.  In one of the first scenes  we are introduced to Iris’s son being examined by a doctor in a most undignified way and who tells him it would be quicker if he saw him privately. There are other scenes of waiting rooms, A & E, one nurse trying to do all sorts of different tasks, and confused patients.
Aneurin Bevan and Winston Churchill (post war) make their appearances, and the NHS is resented by a woman who seems dead at first but can’t be abandoned so easily.

A Cassandra appears from the audience and warns about the way privatisation will be introduced. This will not be overnight but in ways that hide services being taken over by companies whose main purpose is to make profits for share holders. This is similar to the US insurance model.  She tell us we have been betrayed and that we must do something, tell everyone. Then she is removed!  But in the last scene we see Iris in hospital with a kind nurse, Gina, who gives Iris a hug, against rules.  Iris finishes the play saying ” We must not give up, Gina. We must fight. There is still time.”

As Bevan said “the NHS will last as long as there are folk out there with the faith to fight for it.”

We pensioners above all know the value of a good NHS not just free at the point of demand. Giving parts of the service to private contractors can only do this provided that we, the public, pay them enough. The NHS we knew was not just free to all at the point of need but was publicly provided and therefore accountable to us.

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