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Under The Knife – Film ScreeningFree
The NHS is seriously ill. Investigative film, Under the Knife, tells the chilling story
of how Britain’s publicly funded national healthcare system has been
systematically dismantled and undermined.
Narrated by award-winning actor, Alison Steadman, and endorsed by film director,
Ken Loach, Under the Knife is a 90-minute documentary that tells the story of how
the NHS arrived at its present-day crisis.
Under the Knife is to be screened in 50 venues – locations include London,
Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Brighton. From its stormy
birth, through seven decades of turmoil and political warfare, it has withstood
almost everything that has confronted it – until now.
“Films, like words, can be weapons. This film is a weapon in our struggle to save
the NHS. There should be details of the film in every hospital reception, every GP’s
waiting room, every community centre,” said Bafta winning director, Ken Loach
In the run-up to Brexit, Pam K Productions, in partnership with Keep Our NHS
Public and the Daily Mirror, is hosting a free week-long ‘Festival of Screenings’
around the country.
“After a successful crowdfunding campaign and branch donations from UNITE,
UNISON and TUC, we are taking the film into hospitals, universities and to a
cinema near you,” said the film’s producer, Pamela Kleinot.
Former journalist, Kleinot, who worked in the NHS for many years as a
psychotherapist, witnessed endless re-organisations, cuts and closures. “I
experienced the surveillance, targets for staff and uncertainty that resulted from
funding increasingly being cut,” she said. It was this that spurred her on to make
In Under the Knife, Emmy award-winning director Susan Steinberg and Pamela
Kleinot uncover the covert, creeping privatisation of the NHS in the past three
decades, culminating in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, which opened the
floodgates to private companies.
In partnership with:
“Like many people, I wanted to understand how we got into the mess we are into
today and what we can do about it. Focusing on the NHS, the institution that has
been called our national religion, Under the Knife tells that story. It’s vital to
understand the problems and solutions to an institution that has reached breaking
point…. an institution that is fundamental to our democracy” said director Susan
The film ends on hope, illustrating how communities, health care professionals and
campaigners have successfully fought to defend hospitals and services threatened
with closure through the courts, in council chambers and on the streets. In March
this year, Keep Our NHS Public campaigners had a victory. They saved Ealing and
Charing Cross hospitals after seven years of struggle. They have followed in the
footsteps of the people of Lewisham who also won against the government. The
battle rages on as hospitals and GP surgeries around the country close or are at
serious risk, while private companies are creeping into the system, most
disgracefully in mental health.
Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public, added: “This is the best film
around on the NHS. Under the Knife shows the vital importance of the NHS to
society and exposes the dark threats facing it. But most important of all, the film
gives hope to those who are campaigning to keep the NHS safe for our children.
You just have to see it.”
Using interviews and archive footage, the film charts the history of the NHS, from
when it arose out of the ashes of post-war Britain to today. The influence of
neoliberal ideas on the NHS led to the introduction of the now discredited private
Aneira Thomas, the first NHS baby, named after the founder of the NHS, Aneurin
Bevan said: “I am the first NHS baby, born at one minute past midnight on the 5th
of July 1948, into our national treasure and our proudest achievement; the
National Health Service. From my very first breath, and no doubt to my very last
the NHS is central to who I am, the preservation of it for future generations is
vital. We were left a legacy by Aneurin Bevan, and together we will not let it slip
away. The NHS represents morality, conscience, and equality. Under the Knife
shows how it must be rescued from being privatised at all cost. The difference
between a neglected and privatised service, and good sustainable health care
really is life or death.”
Importantly, the documentary has been informed by ordinary people working in the
NHS who recognise the urgent need for change. More than 60 people have been
interviewed for the film, including frontline doctors, nurses, patients, Dr Phil
Hammond, Tony Blair, John McDonnell, George Monbiot, Lord Owen, Gina Miller,
Michael Mansfield QC, and Dr Lauren Gavaghan.