The government’s management of the NHS has been disastrous. The cost of its increasing bureaucracy introduced in the ‘80’s runs into billions of pounds including fragmenting county health authorities’ only to establish them again recently. These changes, opposed by all the professional and union bodies, have been rushed through, ignoring all the results of “consultation”.
The process of privatisation was started by the Conservatives in the 90’s and then taken up with gusto by Labour culminating in an orgy of PFI deals where private companies were paid billions of public money in what amounts to a sale and lease back scheme that was a spectacularly bad deal for the tax payer, leaving us with assets worth around £11Bn that we’re paying back around £80Bn on for the next 20 years.
When they regained power the Conservatives introduced the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 which effectively removed the government’s duty to provide a free, comprehensive health service and legislated that all services should be open to private tender. This threw the door to privatisation of the NHS wide open.
Jeremy Hunt has overseen contracts to private health providers worth billions. Many people argue that having private contractors within the NHS is not a problem. But no private company operates on a charitable basis. They are in it for profit, and if those services were being provided from within the NHS (as they used to be) that profit wouldn’t exist. The money would instead go towards providing more and better services.
Many of these contracts have gone to companies with a chequered past in terms of performance, including Circle Health who recently walked away from the only privately run NHS hospital because there wasn’t enough profit in it. It also has to be noted that many of the firms being offered contracts are significant donors to the Conservative Party. Virgin are also now heavily involved with the NHS and Jeremy Hunt recently visited the USA to talk to health providers there.
Theresa May of course claims that there will be no post-Brexit sell-off of the NHS to American health companies, but she would say that wouldn’t she? The NHS is one of the last public service institutions in this country, employing millions of people and potentially worth billions to private investors. As we’ve seen in the USA, there’s plenty of money in misery and people are prepared to sell everything they have to be without pain or maybe live a few years longer.
We’re already seeing privatisation by stealth. Do you want to give the Conservatives another 5 years to finish the job? If they are prepared to do these sorts of deals, to sell off our NHS, so close to an important election, what will they do if they regain power after June 8th??
Again the Green Party is the only party to propose decentralised healthcare responsibility devolved to local government, with national guidelines ensuring minimum service levels preventing post code lotteries.
Green MP Caroline Lucas has been instrumental in bringing in the NHS reinstatement bill which seeks to end all privatisation and will bring the NHS fully back into public ownership.
We will also re-negotiate PFI deals and end them early where we can, the reduce costs to the NHS and take back public assets being held by private companies.
We will keep the health service free – abolish prescription charges, re introduce free eye tests and NHS dentistry treatment for all and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available. Scotland provides free social care for the elderly – we shall do the same in England and Wales.