Unite Unveils Mural In Protest Of 'Dangerous' NHS Cuts

Image From Karen Lois Whiteread Depicts Mary Seacole


Unite has unveiled a large mural on the side of one of its office buildings in an attempt to highlight its opposition to NHS cuts.

More than 400 individual black and white portraits of regular members of the public opposed to austerity measures imposed by the coalition sit beside a larger image of Mary Seacole, a famous Jamaican-born nurse who worked her way into the history books for her contributions in the Crimean War.

Karen Lois Whiteread is the artist behind the protest mural and wanted to highlight just how many people are, in her view, against healthcare budget cuts.

However, claims from activists that efficiencies are harming care have been rejected by the government, which argues its ring fencing of the Department of Health's budget means patients are getting better care than ever.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite's London and Eastern regional secretary, is sceptical of the coalition's pledge to protect NHS expenditure from austerity and commented: "With David Cameron's coalition government doing all it can to destroy our NHS, in a small corner of north London we have created a strong visual protest against the destruction of our health service."

"It is our NHS, we created it and we pay for it but if we don't fight and challenge the government’s NHS policies we will lose it for future generations."

To mark what Unite sees as the destruction of the NHS, the mural will be demolished at some point before the end of the year, along with the rest of the office building, which had already been slated to be knocked down before the art project began.

Concerns have been raised among some opposition politicians and activists that understaffing caused by NHS underfunding could lead to an increase in medical negligence cases - damaging the service's reputation.

While specific incidences of poor care are hard to blame on wider cost efficiencies, figures released by the NHS Litigation Authority show clinical claims rose by 10.8 per cent in 2012-13 over the previous year.

Expert Opinion
The economic climate in recent times has meant that efficiency savings have been a necessity in many public services, including most significantly in the NHS.

“However, throughout this period of transition we have always stressed that patient safety must come first, with any decision on cuts being made in a considered manner which makes their welfare an absolute priority.

“We have seen a vast number of cases when safety in treatment in the NHS has been compromised and it is vital that everything possible is done to ensure quality care always comes first.

“Despite recent cuts, patients and their families still expect the best possible treatment.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner