Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/729/15002
Our health not their wealth!
A London health worker
Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire is in debt to the tune of £40 million as it struggles to meet costs incurred from a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme introduced by Labour.
Of course the Con-Dems' answer to the problems caused by privatisation is yet more privatisation. Circle Healthcare has been brought in to manage and 'save' the hospital.
In spite of early promises that the debt would be paid off, Circle stands to take half of the profit if Hinchingbrooke makes £6 million surplus in any year starting immediately!
Banks are endlessly bailed out with taxpayers' money so NHS staff and patients should ask why can't PFI debts accumulated by NHS trusts be cancelled. Then there would be no need for a private company to 'rescue' a hospital that has already been bled dry by the private sector.
'Savings' will be clawed back from Hinchingbrooke. Circle have already re-negotiated and reduced hospital cleaning contracts.
This is a dangerous step as hospital acquired infections may result. We saw the rise of MRSA infections in the 1990s when NHS cleaning was outsourced to the private sector. Patients admitted to hospital for routine procedures ended up in a worse state then when they went in!
TUSC NHS Credit card: The Health & Social Care Act Means: NHS Privatisation
Circle will also be keen to 'generate income'. They have not ruled out putting private beds into Hinchingbrooke hospital which will have an adverse impact on the much lauded early drop in waiting times at the hospital.
Experienced frontline staff are being shed as voluntary severance schemes are rolled out. Unison, the largest health union, reports that there is a drop in staff morale as many are now fearful for their jobs. Staff who are stressed in this way will not be able to focus on delivering high quality patient care.
Circle has also managed to cut a lucrative deal with Cambridgeshire NHS trust as it takes on more hip, knee and shoulder replacement operations. This is a classic example of a private provider cherry picking highly profitable, closed-ended services from the NHS.
Companies operate to make profit and Circle plans to pocket £60 million from Hinchingbrooke over the next ten years. This is money that could be going into improving NHS care rather than filling the pockets of company fat cats.
Staff and patients, led by the health unions, must unite and oppose all attempts to privatise our NHS before we lose it forever!
In The Socialist 8 August 2012:
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