Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/698/13330
Hands off our NHS!
Frankie Langeland, Bristol Socialist Party
The government recently announced a plan to sell NHS patient information to private companies. They argue that allowing private life science companies access to this information could "potentially give the NHS early access to new, innovative drugs treatments."
But, as we are now getting used to, the first priority of the Tories is not patient care. Cameron isn't selling the information to reinvest money into the health service - the only charge will be to cover the cost to the NHS.
On top of this Cameron is creating a £180 million "catalyst fund" for companies to bid for to help get projects started! This is at a time when hospitals across the country have made huge cutbacks. In November the RCN nurses' organisation reported that 50,000 NHS jobs had either already gone or were at risk of being cut.
The proposals state that the information will be anonymous, however all patients would automatically be in the scheme and would have to opt out rather than in. The Con-Dem government is forgetting that this is not their data to sell!
This is our personal information that we trust to health professionals, doctors, nurses and our families and friends, not information that we want handed over to private companies.
Selling off our personal information is just another step in the privatisation of the NHS. We have all seen what private companies do to the services we rely on.
Britain, like the rest of the world, has the potential to make great advances in medicine. However we will never be able to achieve this in a profit-driven system.
Instead of working together private companies divide skilled pharmacists, doctors, scientists and researchers, putting them into direct competition, often not looking for cures and treatments for diseases but creating and marketing diet pills and cosmetics which provide higher profits.
Not only does capitalism divide the skilled workers we already have and turn their attention to less vital projects, but tuition fees and the removal of EMA student payments are closing doors to a new generation of scientists that should be taking the next steps in medical research.
The Socialist Party is fighting back against the privatisation of the NHS, in whatever form it takes. We support workers organising action against the attacks of big business and the Con-Dems and say no to anyone profiting from our personal information.
Thousands of NHS workers took strike action on 30 November alongside other public sector workers. This gave a glimpse of the massive potential power of the working class to reverse and stop privatisation. More action like that will have to be organised to defend our NHS.
In The Socialist 14 December 2011:
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party reviews
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis