In Britain we are very attached to the NHS – the National Health Service which provides universal healthcare free at point of delivery based on clinical need. These days the NHS is under attack, its wonderful staff from Doctors down to cleaners are having their jobs devalued and are working under great pressure to deliver care as Britain’s population increases and ages. Founded by Labour in 1948 the NHS is under pressure from the Tory Government bankrolled by private Healthcare providers. So important and life changing is the NHS it was even celebrated during the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games. Indeed it was an NHS Doctor Ludwig Guttmann who was responsible for the creation of the Paralympics.
Today this universal service is under threat more than ever so the staff have banded to get their version of Bridge over Troubled Waters to Britain’s #1 in the Xmas pop charts. The National Health Singers choir was created by a junior doctor wanting to protest against proposed changes to the NHS. So far their video has been watched by more than 20,000 people on YouTube. Any proceeds made by the song will be given to medical charities.
A member of the London hospital choir hoping to beat Justin Bieber to Christmas No 1 says victory would be particularly special to her – because as well as working for the NHS, she owes it her life. Physiotherapist Caroline Harbord was treated for Non-Hodgkin lymphona at University Hospital Lewisham, where she works, and has been in remission for nearly 10 years. She sings alto in the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, which is set to beat Justin Bieber and X Factor winner Louisa Johnson to No 1 with A Bridge Over You, a mash-up of Coldplay’s Fix You and Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
— LG NHS Choir (@Choir_NHS) December 23, 2015
Yesterday the choir’s charity single was only hundreds of sales behind Bieber’s Love Yourself — before the singer himself issued a call to his fans to buy the NHS song, tweeting a link to their download page and writing:
“So for 1 week it’s ok not to be #1. Let’s do the right thing & help them win. It’s Christmas. @Choir_NHS good luck.” Afterwards Coral bookmakers suspended bets on who would win.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) December 23, 2015
Ms Harbord, 50, who has two children aged 14 and 17, said: “When I heard and went to his Twitter page and read it — I welled up a bit. I was quite touched. “It was a bit overwhelming. Most of us are a little bit on the old side but some of us have kids that are Bieber fans. I think the kids are really excited now — if they are Bieber fans this is quite a big deal. We are all excited and happy and stunned. There are people saying how about we sing with Bieber sometime. That would be quite something — an NHS choir with Justin Bieber.” Ms Harbord added: “The NHS saved my life so I owe it a huge amount — which is another reason why it’s so emotional for me to sing.
“I had massive tumours and it was in my bone marrow. It was very advanced. I had exceptional care under the Lewisham haematology team and they saved my life. I should actually be dead as stage four doesn’t have a good prognosis. I’ve just had my 50th birthday and it was a big milestone that I actually got there. I thought I’d be dead 10 years ago but I’m here to see my kids grow up. I’m very grateful and very lucky.”
— The Skibbereen Eagle (@theskibeagle) December 26, 2015
Sales and streams of songs until midnight today will count towards the 2015 Official Christmas Singles Chart, announced tomorrow. Proceeds from the choir’s single will be shared between charities including Carers UK and Mind.
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.