Opinion with Christine Tongue: I still can and so can you

Christine joins the SONIK protest

Like many disabled people, as we get older, I find myself saying “I can no longer ….” This ranges from getting out of a low chair, climbing stairs etc to going on a protest march and storming barricades. (well to be fair, I never actually did that, which is probably why we haven’t had a revolution in Thanet…)

But instead of mourning our lost abilities I think disabled people should try to think in terms of I STILL CAN!

Through Access Thanet, I can still go on making a fuss about the problems in our towns that hamper disabled people – lifts are the least of it! Our streets are full of hazards for wheel chairs and stick users – pot holes, uneven pavements, broken dropped kerbs, NO dropped kerbs, beach walk ways that are traps when they end in soft sand. Etc, etc

With Save Our NHS in Kent (SONIK) I can still take a chair and sit with my placards in some significant spot. I was outside QEQM hospital last week campaigning to get the NHS properly funded and NHS workers paid properly. SONIK goes every week as part of our continuous campaign for our hospital and we gets loads of support from passing traffic and hospital staff.

I, like many disabled people, are very dependent on a properly functioning NHS.

I need a new metal hip joint. My current left hip is 30 years and is wearing out fast. My bones are arranged in such a creative way, thanks to polio and gravity, that only a specialist orthopaedic hospital can even look at it. But when I went for a recent check-up, I was asked continually if I could “cope” and when we talked about the possible risks – stroke, increased disability, death – “you might get covid in hospital” came as the final blow. I realised that the NHS is trying to keep admissions to a minimum. If I can go on “coping” until after the pandemic, that might release some capacity for the extra patients they are all fearing might materialise in the “third wave”.

I don’t know how many people are waiting for treatment. People like me don’t show up on waiting lists because we’re not yet on them! But I do know that a lot of people are facing increasing pain and disability because our hospitals have been taken up with either dealing with covid patients or having to take many extra precautions through vastly increased risk of infection.

And I also know many staff are leaving, worn out by over work and mean pay policies.

So saving the NHS is vital. And by saving I mean not just making it easier and safer for people with serious problems.

Our NHS is dying from from lack of funds

It’s dying from privatisation

It’s dying from over centralisation – moving our stroke unit to Ashford is just too far.

The only way to stop it is to protest. And I can still do that!

Join me – while you still can.

Find events organised by Save Our NHS in Kent here https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurNHSKent/

Christine Tongue is a Broadstairs resident and member of disability campaign group Access Thanet


  1. Well done Christine Tongue, you and all the SONIK activists are inspirational, sadly my own disability has limited my venturing out to absolutely essential trips. On the last occasion when I got out, a trip to the shops at Westwood Cross I found the shop I wanted an item from had its lift out of order. I was stranded on the ground floor, while my partner brought items to the railing on the first floor for me to look up and call out if I wanted the red one or the green one.
    I do hope TK Maxx get their lift sorted by the next time or I shall not bother with their shop at all. So frustrating.

    • I had the same problem at Sainsburys a little while ago John, when their escalator was out of action! With luck I will be 80 next year, and have multiple disabilities, and getting up those stairs at Sainsburys was a bit of a challenge!

  2. “The only way to stop it is to protest”. The Stroke Unit issue

    That is not correct. Christine is a one trick pony “Protest”

    The fact is that TDC SWA and KCC have long been in breach of statutory duties in NHS planning law.

    The environmental and water borne hazards to health and the cirumstances in which they were concealed from Clinical Commissioning Group (And from maternity tragedy inquests and from judicial Reviews in High Court) have been subject of crime complaints since 2014 .. attached to Manston acquisition fraud crime complaints.

    By enforcing the law the cause will emerge to invoke “Health Inequality” NHS Planning duties in Thanet.

    I know it is far easier to hold up a placard for an IOT News photo. And thus “Protest” is the influence without consequence magnet for inveterate attention seeking virtue signallers.

  3. Nice to hear from you again Richard. Enlighten me please – what’s a one trick pony.I’m thrilled to think I can do any tricks but can’t think what my one is. I’d love to be able to do somersaults but just walking is a challenge ATM.

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