Safe in our hands

‘The National Health Service is safe in our hands/ is too expensive’
The UK’s NHS is one of the best, if not the best, health service on the planet. However, if this Tory government has its way, it will be a thing of the past or, more accurately, just the label on a dismembered, mostly privatised mockery of what we had. This is not paranoia – it’s already happening. Besides which Jeremy Hunt has made it clear that’s what the Tories want. Regarding a review of the service, he’s quoted as saying “The NHS is the best health system in the world but we know there is still too much variation in care. Sir David’s proposals go hand in hand with the NHS five-year forward view on how to meet the challenges of the future, and they will be food for thought for hospitals and commissioners looking to innovate, supported by the £200m transformation fund we announced last week.” ‘Sir David’ is David Dalton, Chief Executive of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, tasked by Hunt to “make it easy for NHS super-heads to take over struggling organisations”. ‘His report, produced in December 2014, suggested that concessions could be established by which companies are given contracts to operate publicly-funded hospitals.’ (Wikipedia).

Why? Partly ideological hatred of anything created by the Labour Party, but mostly simple greed. Tory hostility to public ownership of industries and services is not that they’re inefficient (that’s a lie drummed into us by the bosses’ ‘free press’) but because they have to help pay for them and can’t make any profit out of them.

When the NHS was created, Aneurin Bevan had to let the consultants (medical, not management) keep their private practices in order to bring them on board. At that time, at least, the ‘professions’ had the power to stand up to government. That concession left a split in the NHS which led to a two-tier service where those, who could afford it, could buy a faster and better level of treatment. Thus the nationalised part was always left looking less effective. Nevertheless it worked and became an essential part of people’s lives in this country. However no-one foresaw the scale of the costs involved and cuts were made – one of the first to go was free dental treatment (1951). In the 1980’s the government came out with the mantra that ‘demand on the NHS could be infinite’ unless it was restricted. This is another old school lie. The population isn’t infinite, nor is it sick all the time and the same thing could be said about the demands on other kinds of insurance that function quite happily, even making big profits. Insurance companies use actuarial tables to work out the levels of risk and make provisions accordingly. The NHS could do the same instead of being made by the government to waste time and money on meeting targets and dealing with the bureaucracy of internal markets.

Meanwhile, there are some facts of which you may not be aware. One is that the Secretary of State for Health is since 2012 no longer responsible for the NHS. Another is that there are plans to close hospitals and some critical services – maternity, stroke care, serious accident and emergency cases – and centralise them in bigger hospitals, whatever extra travelling times that will incur. To make room for these extra burdens, those hospital will unload their ‘bed-blockers’ to go home to die in the care of social services which, themselves, are at the point of collapse due to underfunding. These patients will no longer be the responsibility of the NHS but of local authorities, whose budgets have been slashed by the government. So local politicians can either take the blame for the inevitable failures or for raising Council Tax to make it work. HMG says ‘It’s not our fault’! Great system.

Right now we need to fight off the cuts being made and reverse the ‘reforms’ while we still have a real national health service.

RA 23.11.16

1 thought on “Safe in our hands”

  1. Thanks for a model exposition, succinct & clear.

    “Reforms” in NHS England are being driven through relentlessly. The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not been so determined to dismantle and fragment and privatise, so they still have something like a NATIONAL health service.

    Our NHS exemplifies the power of the state for good or for ill. In 1948 the Secretary of State took possession of every health facility in the land and undertook responsibility for providing universal health care free at the point of delivery. The 2012 “Reform” removed the responsibility while leaving the ownership. People call this “robbery” when they are alerted to what has happened, as their hospitals are turned into profit centres ready to be sold off when the accountants show that they are running at a loss.

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