NHS Crisis – The Tory engineered end to public healthcare


Blind rage is what most of us should feel upon the realisation that our beloved NHS is being driven headfirst into the ground by a Tory government who either simply do not care, or have ulterior motives – likely both, but the latter is what we should perhaps be most concerned about: the case for which I shall set out in this article.

Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt already have the coffin prepared for what remains of our National Health Service, with the private sector waiting in the wings to take the reigns. 

The Conservatives campaigned in the 2015 general election based on a manifesto that the NHS would receive an extra £10bn in funding a year by 2020. As MPs on the health select committee have pointed out, in real terms it is just a £6.5bn funding increase, with £3.5bn coming from cuts to public health and medical training.

NHS England figures have shown cancelled routine operations at record levels and acute services under intolerable strain. Evidence has come to light of patients dying because of long waits for care, chronic shortages of beds and lack of staff. Whitehall officials said that May has no plans to address the Commons and to “set out to the British people how she plans to fix her failure on the NHS” as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn has demanded. This surely speaks volumes about where her true priorities lie.

The UK spends a smaller proportion of its GDP on health care than countries such as Portugal, France and the Netherlands

In as rich a country as ours, we should not accept the inevitability that the Red Cross has had to step into the breach and offer support to the NHS, providing support to a number of hospitals around the country and warning of a “humanitarian crisis” in the system. The governments first priority is to look after the people of the nation, a responsibility they are clearly failing upon.

Leading figures working in the NHS and social care have been warning for months that pressures added to the NHS by failure to provide sufficient services at home and in the community for those requiring social care will have disastrous knock-on effects – all insight, advice and pleas have been ignored by May, Hunt and the government. The Department of Health have simply batted away all comment with empty statements to the contrary of evidence on the ground – they have simply chosen to deny there is a problem. “There isn’t a crisis,” Teresa May snapped when asked on Sky’s new Sunday politics show, despite people dying on trolley’s in A&E.

Unlike the Cameron government, this unelected government don’t seem content to wait while the NHS is privatised bit by bit, they want the dividends a private system would pay them and their donors sooner rather than later. The secret meetings and plans are finally taking fruition, the NHS is failing, an engineered crisis by Jeremy Hunt and co – allowing the case of the private sector as the only alternative to be presented in the face of an all out healthcare collapse.

During a meeting in September 2016 with the Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens, Teresa May effectively shut the public purse on the fingers of those trying to support our wearied health service – instead of offering much needed extra funding she instead demanded more operational savings (in other words, cuts). Time will tell how she will respond in the face of increased public pressure, but if she stays true to form then meaningless statements and empty promises are likely the best we can hope for.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has of course gone into hiding again, content to stay hidden whilst the dust settles on what used to be the NHS. Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders told The Independent “Jeremy Hunt cannot say that he wasn’t warned that this crisis was coming. Every major health organisation has been warning for months that the NHS was heading for disaster unless it got more funding.”

The UK spends a smaller proportion of its GDP on health care than countries such as Portugal, France and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom is the 5th richest country on the planet, more money could be given to the NHS: we manage to find money from an alleged empty pot when we decide we want to bomb another middle eastern country, so why else would our NHS have been allowed to decline so rapidly and warnings so blatantly ignored unless something more sinister was afoot. 

Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt already have the coffin prepared for what remains of our National Health Service, with the private sector waiting in the wings to take the reigns.

Between 2009/10 and 2012/13, NHS providers – trusts and foundation trusts – had together ended each year with a surplus of around £500 million. But in 2013/14 the gross deficit outweighed the gross surplus of NHS providers and there was a net overspend of £107 million. When you make cuts or simply ignore issues in areas such as social care and mental health these pressures transfer to the NHS – this is a storm of the Tories brewing, and they cannot claim otherwise.

One thing that will not be mentioned by either the government, or likely the media is the impact of privatsation on NHS Trust balances. When private companies are relied on for vital services, they can charge the NHS through the nose – and when they view the operation/procedure as not profitable and hence not worthwhile (with their first priority being that of keeping their shareholders happy and not the care of the nation’s health) it is the NHS that is left to pick up the pieces.

Jeremy Hunt’s attempts to demoralise doctors, the scrapping of bursaries for student nurses, an unprecedented slowdown in funding growth, the deliberate decision to exclude social care from the health budget, the ignoring of all warnings that the NHS was at tipping point – they’re all part of the plan.

The Tories have finally nailed their flag to the mast, they are not even trying to hide it anymore, the government has no intention of supporting the NHS. Their overall aim is to privatise and implement an insurance based system, like that in the US – finally fulfilling the destructive wishes of Margaret Thatcher. A system where the phrase “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do… your credit card has been declined” could be startlingly common, and where the majority of the population are one major illness away from bankruptcy or losing their houses.

Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS said “The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it”. Now is our time friends, in the face of an all out Tory assault we cannot hesitate further, or else we lose the thing we hold most dear forever – the right to healthcare, free at the point of delivery. Are we going to stand by and watch as the most valued of British institutions is chopped up by May and Hunt and handed our to their friends? If you find yourself answering no, then now is the time to stand up and fight – or else it might be too late.