My latest blog post for the People’s History of the NHS website looks at what last year’s Christmas No.1 reveals about the historic relationship between charity and the NHS.
The 2015 Christmas No.1 single was ‘A Bridge Over You’, a medley of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘A Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’. It was sung by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS hospital trust choir when they were featured on a BBC TV show with celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone, but revived by the choir a couple of years later as a seasonal charity single.
The attention it received in the press was largely for its denying the chart top spot to Justin Bieber, who took to twitter to encourage his fans to buy the rival single. The Guardian noted the Canadian popstar had previously spoken out in favour of state healthcare, saying of Americans in a Rolling Stone interview: ‘You guys are evil’ for the financial worries associated with healthcare in the US. There were occasional comments about solidarity with the junior doctors, who had just postponed a national strike and support for the financial security it guarantees in times of illness. However, no comment was made about the discrepancy between the Christmas No.1 campaign’s rallying cry and where the money actually went.
The choir ditched their parochial name and branded themselves the NHS Choir, emphasising the point that buying the single was a way of showing appreciation for all those working over the holidays to keep the health service going. Yet the money raised did not go to the NHS…
Read more at the People’s History of the NHS: Charity and the NHS Choir