The death knell for our NHS is sounding and action needs to be taken before it is too late. In the 1980’s we had constant media coverage of the consequences of a cash strapped NHS which helped rein in the worst excesses of Tory cuts. Margaret Thatcher backed off. We need to ensure we stop the next onslaught in its tracks.
Tactics deployed rarely amount to a public pronouncement of intent. The government lacks the mandate for full frontal assault, even from conservative voters, so is not attempted. Instead the acronym laden, shape shifting, assault is hard to follow, it is a world of smoke and mirrors. Nevertheless it is happening. Right now.
American style health insurance companies are circling.
Standard practice to move to privatisation is to squeeze funding, demoralise staff, engineer a degraded service and then shift the blame to the service. This is the current tactic.
On funding. It is estimated that , to keep pace with our demographic challenges, we need between 4 -5% increased allocation annually. Since 2008 the NHS has been allocated 0.9%. (David Wrigley). This is the defund bit. Danes, Swedes, French and Germans all spend more.
The demoralisation of staff takes the form of capped pay and, for Junior doctors, the eventual imposition of a contract that triggered 98% support for strike action. This was unprecedented and yet media coverage, of the 98% , was decidedly muted. In addition staffing levels see a ratio of 2.8 doctors per 1000 people , compared to a EU average of 3.4 , with 4 per 1000 provided in Germany. Unsurprisingly stress has sky rocketed seeing early retirement rates peaking and junior doctors moving abroad. Available beds are reduced.
Factor in the decimation of social care with 40% cuts to Local Authority. No wonder the service is creaking under the strain.
The cuts are forcing hospital trusts to think the unthinkable. The closure of hospitals is proposed amidst arguments that concentrating services is necessary. I suspect there is merit in some specialisation but this is being used to remove necessary, and accessible, services which need to be proximate to the people they serve.
As Harry Smith ( Harry’s Last Stand) expressed it:
“Now, a nation that once had the courage to refigure society, to create the NHS and the modern welfare state, elects governments that are in lock-step with big business whose overriding pursuit is profit for the few at the expense of the many”.
We are already hearing talk of health insurance, moves to co-payment and more procedures being defined as “of limited clinical value”. This could be cataracts or hip replacements. Who will access these in the future? Those who can pay?
Simon Stevens is the head of NHS England. Check out his background. Does he really embrace the ethos of the NHS or is he fatally compromised?
This is what Sustainable Transformation Plans are about. Better known as Slash, Trash & Privatisation. The only way they can prosecute these plans, in the teeth of public opposition, is by sleight of hand. Smoke & Mirrors to open up the NHS to private health insurance companies.
It’s not over yet.
4th March 2017. March in defence of the NHS. We need to scare the government off. Be there. It’s in London there will be coaches. Keep an eye out.
I am indebted to Keep our NHS public (Leeds) for its conference on campaigning with the excellent speakers : John Lister and David Wrigley. I was out campaigning today for #careforournhs. I took my copy of NHS for Sale with me. Full of sticky notes for things I wanted to get across. Until it’s you. Until it’s yours. You will not “know” but empathy is not dead. You good people can imagine.
The time for solidarity is now. With our doctors, nurses, practitioners of all descriptions.
Also those people who NEED this: Free at the point of NEED