July 20, 2017

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Will STPs finally wreck the NHS? -

Sunday, June 18, 2017

STPs – A new way to wreck the NHS -

Friday, February 17, 2017

Private health insurance doesn’t cover A & E!! -

Monday, January 30, 2017

The real costs of NHS contracting out -

Monday, September 26, 2016

Taxpayers subsidising private pharmacies? -

Saturday, September 10, 2016

NHS – Eve of Destruction

“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned, they are lower than vermin.”

 

Aneurin Bevan’s famous quote automatically comes to mind as we stagger from crisis to crisis in the NHS, although vermin might object to being mentioned in the same breath as the Tory Party! The arrival of the NHS on 5th July 1948 was not an easy birth. It was opposed by the Tories and by the doctors’ trade union, the British Medical Association (BMA). Negotiations with the BMA went to the 11th hour, until eventually, the majority of doctors accepted working for the NHS in return for what Bevan described as having ‘stuffed their mouths with gold’.

 

The NHS has become an integral part of life in Britain, not least because most of us cannot remember life without it. However, if Aneurin Bevan returned today, he would see the undignified spectacle of avarice – the Tories and LibDems ripping the heart out of the NHS and privatising it to their friends, the vultures of the international banking and finance industry (Finance companies own most of the private health companies). Even more distressing, he would see the Labour Party not even lifting a finger to stop them. Hardly surprising since during 13 years of power, Blair, Brown, Balls and company were already stealthily privatising the NHS.

Cameron has repeatedly said that the NHS is safe in Tory hands and Osborne has unequivocally stated that NHS expenditure is ring-fenced. BOTH ARE LYING. While the headline figure for NHS expenditure has been maintained, the amount spent on treating patients -the front-line costs – has been reduced year after year.

The NHS was designed to be cost effective by being free at the point of delivery, so there were no expensive administration costs for charging individuals for treatment. The total cost of the NHS at its birth was just 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1. Since then, there has been the development of the ‘internal market’ – part of Thatcher’s legacy – and contracting out to private companies. These changes mean that today, there is an expensive paper trail between the NHS and its assorted suppliers, which has resulted in the NHS costing the taxpayer 7.9% of GDP in 2011/20121.

In the USA, health costs are 17.6% of GDP2, an average per person of US$8,233 a year, against approx US$3,000 per person per year in Britain. The USA has a system based on private health insurance, and the UK is now hurtling backwards towards this failed system. Whatever the final outcome, it is certain the taxpayer will pay more, less will be spent on treating patients and the financial service industry will make billions!

Dr Lucy Reynolds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health3 specialises in the design and management of medical and public health programmes. She deplores how the years of changes to the financial rules mean that the NHS is now both a ‘public health sector service and a health care industry’. This is slow privatisation, without any political accountability. Bevan’s original NHS was politically accountable, locally, regionally and nationally, but in 2009 the last semblance of accountability ceased with the setting up of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as the quality regulator. The CQC has recently made the front pages of all the newspapers, for covering up its own appalling performance.

This sad spectre of the NHS, pensioned off at the age of 65, is not some misguided aberration, but part of a meticulously planned ideological assault on the fabric of British society by fanatical dogmatic neo-liberal fundamentalists. After the 2nd World War, Britain had no wish to return to the unemployment and economic ravages of the 1930s’ depression. Often called the Spirit of 1945, this period saw the first Labour Government with an outright majority, and they started to create a better society – and the most crucial part of that was the NHS. Everyone – rich or poor – had access to first-class health care, free at the point of delivery. Aneurin Bevan achieved this amid the same kind of hostile political atmosphere that we live in today.

The NHS was the biggest and most successful social experiment of its time and a crucial part of the more egalitarian and fairer society that emerged after the Second World War. This fairer society was stopped in its tracks by Thatcher, and her malevolent influence can be seen all through this greedy, seedy government.

Ye are many, they are few, said Shelly. Do we take this lying down or do we stand up and fight?

 

Michael Gold,

michael@radicalsoapbox.com

@radicalmic

 

1http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/anatomy-health-spending-201112-review-nhs-expenditure-and-labour-productivity?gclid=CPu227bymLgCFSfLtAoddg0AOQ

 

2http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html

 

3http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE1DasbKejA

 

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