A privateers’ NHS charter
Justifying something on the basis that leaving things as they are is not an option is not an argument.
If there are weaknesses in the NHS – and there certainly are – identify those weaknesses and engage in discussion over how to overcome them.
The Tories and their loyal satraps the Liberal Democrats have not done that.
They simply gave a blank sheet of paper to neoliberal zealot Andrew Lansley and he, predictably, came forward with a plan for a fully marketised NHS which has been accepted by the coalition government.
Once again, neither Tories nor Liberal Democrats included this assault on the NHS in their manifesto.
It is another example of ideologues taking advantage of generalised hysteria about the state of the economy to bring forward extremist policies that they would not have dared place before voters in a general election.
Cameron waffles vaguely about the growth of the elderly population, new drugs and new treatments and draws the erroneous conclusion that this “new” situation justifies what he calls “changes to cut bureaucracy and waste.”
In fact, his sweeping abolition of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities will represent the death of public accountability within the NHS.
No longer will the trusts and health authorities meet in public, releasing their papers for scrutiny by the electorate. In future, new bodies will meet in secret and take unaccountable decisions.
And Cameron has the brass neck to claim that he is cutting back on bureaucracy and waste.
There has been no demand by GPs, health professionals or the public for the measures included in Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill. It is supported by private health-care companies desperate to get their fingers on public finance and their hangers-on.
Most GPs have neither the resources nor the desire to set themselves up as commissioning agents to run health services within a given area, but the government has made up its mind, which might see £80 billion of public funds up for grabs.
And up for grabs is the correct term, since a plethora of US companies already have their beady eyes on this bonanza. They will offer to take the bureaucratic grind of the new system out of the hands of the GPs – at a price.
This is part of a government programme of setting up structures that permit parasitical private-sector elements to leach public funds out of the NHS as private profits.
When Cameron claims that Tory plans do not amount to privatisation, quite simply he is lying.
Introduction of internal markets into the NHS, with contracts open to the private sector, including charities, would siphon cash out and weaken the financial stability of public facilities.
Our NHS, which the Tories opposed and to which they remain hostile, is already under pressure, having been ordered to make £20bn of what the government calls savings and what most people perceive clearly as cuts.
The public understands what is at stake, which is why barely a quarter is supportive of Lansley’s privateers’ charter.
Unions and health campaigners must work to involve communities in defence of the NHS and exploit the divisions between coalition MPs and their voters on this issue to secure the Bill’s defeat.
Neoliberal Takeover of NHS Begins:
Tories write the NHS tombstone: