Comedians stage NHS celebration gig in Wellingborough

Clockwise from left, Christian Reilly, Arthur Smith, Patrick Monaghan and Sara Pascoe
Clockwise from left, Christian Reilly, Arthur Smith, Patrick Monaghan and Sara Pascoe
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A quartet of top comedians are appearing at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough in an event being billed as a celebration of the NHS.

The event will feature Arthur Smith, who is both a comedian and writer with a number of stage plays to his name, Irish-Iranian stand-up Patrick Monaghan, musical comic Christian Reilly, who has worked with Richard Herring and Rich Hall in the past, and Sara Pascoe, who has appeared on panel shows including QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Comedian Sara Pascoe, who is appearing in Wellingborough in February

Comedian Sara Pascoe, who is appearing in Wellingborough in February

Smith is probably the best-known of the four comics, being a regular “talking head” on Grumpy Old Men and having appeared on a host of television and radio shows.

Pascoe is an actress as well as a comedian, and has appeared on The Thick Of It, Being Human and Twenty Twelve, among others.

Health campaigner Richard Garvie has organised the one-off event and has been revealing the identities of the comics throughout the week.

He said he wants the evening to celebrate the work of the NHS, which he says is suffering a number of cuts.

He added: “We decided that a celebration event would be more productive that a protest, although a mass protest may be organised in Northamptonshire later next month.

Mr Garvie and fellow health campaigner Rhea Kheen set up Save Our NHS Northamptonshire last year after becoming concerned about possible funding cuts to the Cransley Hospice in Kettering and the Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton – although the NHS later said there would be no cuts to the hospices until alternative funding was identified.

He said: “We felt that there was a need to do something to highlight what is happening in the NHS in Northamptonshire, and a celebration event with stand up comedy was felt to be the best way to do that.

“When campaigners met with the NHS Nene commission group which is in charge of decision making for all NHS services in Northamptonshire, it was revealed there would have to be £44m in-year budget cuts which would possibly lead to most elective surgery such as hip replacements, cataract surgeries and others being scrapped.”

A spokesman for NHS Nene CCG said: “NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group is not in charge of decision making for all NHS services in the county.

“They alongside NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group commission services including hospital and community services.

“NHS England are responsible for commissioning primary care services eg GPs, pharmacies etc

“NHS Nene has been quite open on the financial situation and earlier in the year it was predicting a £39m budget gap at the end of the financial year due to various factors including rising demand and only a small increase in their budget.

“This projected gap has been reduced to £8.6m and a plan is being put in place with the aim to break even.

“The budget hasn’t been cut there is just more pressure in the NHS on limited finances.

“A lot of the work the CCG has been carrying out to address the budget gap has been on making services more efficient, reducing internal costs in the CCG and enhancing contract management with providers

“There has never been a suggestion that most elective surgery will be scrapped.

“A change in the process has taken place whereby when a patient is being referred for a procedure by their GP the request will be sent to the CCG before it is sent to the hospital.

“The CCC will make sure the patient meets the pre-existing criteria and that there is not medically a better option for the patient’s treatment.”

Tickets for the comedy event cost £10 from The Castle website or phoning 01933 270007.

A Facebook page about the event has also been set up.