In a nation battered by years of brutal war with Nazi Germany, Clement Attlee’s “social contract” saw the introduction of a National Health Service, founded in 1948; funded through central taxation making healthcare free and available to all citizens of Britain. In the time since it has become a symbolic institution of our nation and the envy of many around the world – arguably the most important and proud invention of our history is now under threat of being lost to corporate greed forever.
As directors and shareholders of private medical companies, a number of Conservative supporters, their friends, and representatives would stand to gain financially from the privatisation of the NHS. Though they are aware that they could not outright sell off the service for fear of major public anarchic rebellion, selling off the service to private providers in small chunks could be viewed as a tempting and personally rewarding prospect.
Consider for a moment if you will what happened with our rail service. After years of underinvestment, and years of bad results, the Tories decided that the only way forward was to privatise the service. We are now in a situation where our rail service is up to six times more expensive than our European counterparts (with a 25% rise in fares in the last 5 years), and where profits are being farmed off to shareholders and the foreign countries from which the private service providers originate rather than being re-invested in the network.
Under the strain of underinvestment, potential cuts, removal of nurses bursaries and staff disputes that will lead to an even further lack of medical staff it is not unfathomable to see the NHS end up in a similar situation. A crisis of the kind Attlee could never have imagined may be around the corner. The Tories might find themselves in a rather convenient position where they are able to claim that the current model is not working, and that change is needed – that change being further, or even full, privatisation.
The Government claims the health budget is protected. But in reality, the NHS has been forced to make cuts of up to £15-20 billion already, with more expected. Many NHS trusts are in danger of going bust with PFI debts being a major factor. Sixty-six hospitals face potential closure.
The Health & Social Care Act removed the Government’s responsibility for the NHS. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are now only legally obliged to provide emergency care and ambulances (there are now no limits on the amount of NHS contracts that can be transferred in to private hands) and it was announced earlier this week that Virgin had won a £126m contract to run four NHS community hospitals in north Kent. More full scale hospital contracts may be around the corner – one step closer to complete privatisation.
An in depth study in 2015 showed that privatisation in the NHS had soared by 500% in the last year alone. Make no mistake, the NHS is already being privatised, piece by piece, as private healthcare providers take on more and more NHS services.
One thing that the media seems to have conveniently overlooked is that current Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt co-authored a book Direct Democracy calling for the NHS to be dismantled – his agenda clearly laid out clearly for all to read. If Mr Hunt gets his wishes the NHS is shortly to become a state insurer along the lines of Medicare in the United States.
The most worrying thing is that this is happening right under our noses, without our consent. We must act now if we want to save our NHS so many of us owe our lives to and hold dear, or we risk our care being driven by profit and not for the sake of the patients as it was originally intended.
We must all stand up and put a stop to this, its in our hands now.
Next on the list – the privatisation of the police force to G4S.