I’m putting this blog up again for two reasons. The first is that it is now two years since I wrote to congratulate the NHS on its 70th birthday, the second is that there are still people who genuinely do not know or would prefer not to know that the Tory government have always intended to sell it off as soon as they possibly can.
Now it is very near its final destruction. So I’m devoting this blog to a few very necessary facts about our NHS and the government’s planned and deliberate destruction of it.
Mark Britnell chairman of KPMG global health, made it perfectly clear in 2010 what was going to happen when he gave a speech at a healthcare industry conference in the USA, in which he said that
“IN FUTURE, THE NHS WILL BE A STATE INSURANCE PROVIDER NOT A STATE DELIVERER,”
And that “THE NHS WILL BE SHOWN NO MERCY AND THE BEST TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS WILL BE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS.”
He couldn’t have put it more clearly, although the big boys at KPMG tried to make light of it and claimed that he hadn’t said any such thing when the The Observer let the cat out of the bag.
Since then, there has been a steady drip feed of government propaganda, implying that the users of the NHS were getting everything for free. People like the Brexit leader Daniel Hannan went even further. He was scathing about the value of the NHS and said “The NHS is a relic and a 60 year mistake I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”
So let’s knock this insulting idea that the NHS is a freebie which we don’t deserve right smack on the head. From its outset our National Health Service was carefully costed. A special tax called ‘National Insurance Contributions’ was set up and began as soon as the NHS was created. We all paid that tax if we were in work and continued to do so from 1948 all through our working lives, accepting it as a sensible way to fund this great organisation so that we could use it whenever we needed to without the fear of not being able to pay for it which had been a powerful deterrent to a very large number of people before the NHS came in. Far too many doctors in those old heartless days insisted in their guinea or half guinea before they would even look at the patient. That is the truth about a) why it was needed and b) how we paid for it. Don’t let this government tell you that we are parasites getting treatment for free. That simply isn’t true.
What Mark Britnell said on the other hand has been proved true. We are now having to accept that costly private health provision has been allowed in secretly and by the back door and people like Richard Branson have already bought great chunks of our NHS or at least the profitable parts of it. That’s another fact. And here’s another one. Virgin Care Services have paid no corporation tax on their profits from the 400 NHS contracts he now holds. The turnover from these contracts is £200 million.
We also have to accept that the Tory Ministers of Health have been steadily running the NHS down, closing beds, maternity wards and A&E departments and sacking nurses and doctors. The result of all this destruction is now plainly obvious in the COVID-19 crises hitting our hospitals. These are not the result of too many people asking for help or health service departments not being properly organised, both of which excuses are heavily touted in propaganda statements, but are the direct and inevitable result of all those deliberate government cuts.
The thinking behind the governments activities is simple and simplistic. 1) Run the national health service down, 2) point out how inefficient it is and claim that it isn’t working, 3) announce that because it failing it will have to be privatized, 4) sell it off cheaply to your mega rich friends so that they can make a profit out of it.
Those of us who know what’s going on, and there are many of us both in and out of the NHS, have been struggling to keep the public truthfully informed, by demonstrations, letters and protests of every kind, like the demonstrators in these pictures.
It will take another general election like the one in 1945, to put things right. I wish!