In the heady summer of 1945, when a Labour Government had just been elected with a huge majority and the power to make life affirming changes, like establishing our NHS and organising our society so that we could care for one another and finally defeat the five giants that had been plaguing our communities for so long, and that William Beveridge listed in his famous plan: Unemployment, Want, Disease, Squalor and Ignorance. It was a mighty task but we were sure that this new Government of ours could do it. We sang the most optimistic of hymns in our school assembly to celebrate. We felt the future it predicted was just ahead of us.
These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e’er the world hath known shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.
They shall be gentle, brave, and strong,
To spill no drop of blood, but dare
All that may plant man’s lordship firm
On earth, and fire, and sea, and air.
Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.
New arts shall bloom of loftier mold,
And mightier music thrill the skies,
And every life shall be a song,
When all the earth is paradise. Amen.
Take a deep breath, all of you who love our NHS and hope it will survive. The ultimate plan for its destruction is already in place and will soon be up and running. It has been put there secretly, under cover of propaganda aimed to make us think it is something helpful and admirable. It is called STP (The Sustainability and Transformation Plan), and is an integral part of Simon Stevens’ and the government’s Five Year Forward View. The blurb about them basically states that STPs are a major reorganisation in healthcare starting this year, 2016, and carrying on over the next five years.
Our dear, hardworking Nye must be turning in his grave.
In reality STP and the 5 year forward plan will take all budgetary control away from the Secretary of State and the Department of Health and give it to these new STPs (who of course have no statutory powers). Having abrogated all financial responsibility for the NHS by
- having made nearly all hospital trusts independently run foundation trusts, and
- having devolved all commissioning of healthcare to the STP footprints and the CCGs within them
the government has laid down nine ‘must do’targets for each STP to deliver in 2016/17. Of course they aren’t really targets as they are mandatory requirements. These must dos have not only got to be delivered, they have got to be delivered at the same time as abolishing the financial deficit. “Deficit reduction in providers will require a forensic examination of every pound spent on delivering healthcare and embedding a culture of relentless cost containment. Trusts need to focus on cost reduction not income growth.”
Take note all you lovers of the NHS this is all about RELENTLESS COST CONTAINMENT. They couldn’t have put it more clearly than that. When we established the NHS and the welfare state, the means of paying for them were built into the system. All people at work paid National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and we all paid income tax, the job of the Minister of Health was to ensure that the taxes we paid which as you know are continually adjusted was sufficient to cover the service. Now the whole structure has been turned arse about face. Because the Government have always been set on privatising it and have been giving away huge, profitable chunks of it to their rich friends plus the taxes and NICs that should have gone into our NHS. The consequence of this is that that our NHS is miserably and deliberately starved of cash. Beds and wards are closed, doctors and nurses dispensed with. We really shouldn’t have been surprised that the junior doctors went on strike and came out on the streets with their banners.
Dear Nye, how much we need you now. We have the most terrible struggle ahead of us if we are to prevent our NHS from being totally destroyed in the name of profit and greed.