London’s Protest Stickers: Health and the NHS

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Stickers of all kinds are a significant part of London’s urban fabric (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Waterloo Bridge, 15/12/16).

The conflict over Junior Doctors’ contracts was arguably one of the biggest news stories of 2016 with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, imposing new working and pay conditions. The NHS more generally is one of the biggest battlegrounds of modern British politics, with constant debates about funding, privatisation, and the quality of the services provided. Like other key issues and events in politics (such as the EU Referendum, immigration, and housing), the conflict over the NHS has manifested itself in London’s protest stickers. Some stickers refer to other health-related issues, such as the legalisation of drugs and mental health.

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Stickers that were designed to be worn by people often end up being worn by the city, like this sticker produced by the British Medical Association (BMA) in support of the Junior Doctors. Stickers like these caused some controversy amongst Junior Doctors, when the BMA sent out stickers for Junior Doctors to wear at work as an alternative method of protest to striking (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Grafton Way, 03/05/16).

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One of the main arguments against the new contracts was that the changes would risk the health of patients. As such, it is not just Junior Doctors who should take an interest in the dispute (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Lewisham Way, 20/03/16).

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Unison is a union for people who work in public services, including employees of the NHS. This sticker is also making the argument that the users of the NHS should be just as involved in the fight for to save the NHS as those who work in it (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Great Russell Street, 16/06/15).

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The NHS is an important political issue. The funding and running of the NHS often becomes a topic of debate during elections. The Conservative Party, for example, are frequently accused of trying to underfund and privatise the NHS. (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Borough High Street, 19/08/15).

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The National Health Action Party is a group that campaigns to halt and reverse the privatisation of the NHS. I found this sticker on the Euston Road, outside the University College London hospital. Sometimes, the location of protest stickers can contribute to their meaning (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston Road, 16/06/15).

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Keep Our NHS Public is another group that campaigns for the preservation of the NHS. Le Turnip produces protest stickers that take a lighthearted and sarcastic view on a whole range of issues (Photo: Hannah Awcock, High Holborn, 09/08/15).

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The NHS is not the only health-related issue to inspire the production of protest stickers. Feed the Birds is a campaign run by the London Cannabis Club. The campaign aims to destigmatise cannabis and call for its legalisation by feeding hemp seeds to birds (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Prince Consort Road, 09/07/15).

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The Feed the Birds campaign makes some bold claims about the powers of cannabis (Photo: Hannah Awcock, High Holborn, 09/08/15).

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This sticker was produced by the Psychadelic Society, which advocates for the legalisation of psychadelic drugs (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Upper Street, Islington, 14/04/15).

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Mental health is also a topic which gets people talking. This sticker is objecting to the way in which mental health terms are used in everyday language, which can belittle mental health problems (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Euston Road, 03/08/16).

To see where I found all these protest stickers, check out the Turbulent London Map.

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