Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/492/2526
Stop Hatchet Hewitt's NHS plans Now
REACHING INTO the history of health provision, health secretary Patricia Hewitt, rejected all that was effective. She seized on the most flawed models as she conjured up her Frankenstein vision of a future NHS. Her recent lecture at the London School of Economics (LSE) was truly frightening to all those who want a health service which is publicly funded and accountable.
Counterposing local autonomy to centralisation as part of her pro-privatisation agenda, Hatchet Hewitt said: "The NHS is four times the size of the Cuban economy and more centralised. That is part of its problem. And the problem can't be solved by proposing that a modern health service be run like a 1960s nationalised industry."
In Sicko, Michael Moore's new film, Moore takes a group of 9/11 rescue workers suffering from debilitating illnesses who have been denied medical attention in the US, to Cuba. The quality of the treatment that they receive gives the lie to Hewitt's speech.
In typical New Labour double-speak, Hewitt said we need a 'polarity of providers'. For this read privatisation. She outlined proposals for an NHS increasingly reliant on the charity sector to provide services.
Doesn't she realise that her model of the NHS has been done before. It's called pre-welfare state! Hewitt's speech was an attack on the idea of the state paying for a public service.
Hewitt claimed that her model was in contrast to those who want a private insurance scheme. In reality her model of private service providers is the thin end of the wedge and is a further step down the line towards an NHS where patients pay for treatment out of private health insurance contributions.
Once health care services are in private hands and private health companies have a monopoly on a given service, they can then charge users for that service.
NHS patients urgently needing services could be forced to pay which opens the door to more private care and insurance.
She only needs to watch one episode of ER to see that taking the US approach ends in limiting health provision to the minority who can afford to pay. This is nothing less than turning the clock back on health services.
At the LSE we, "the hecklers", as the BBC described us, demanded that she stop all cuts and privatisation. Billions are currently wasted on management consultants and private treatment centres.
Meanwhile cuts and sub-contracting have resulted in the tragedy of over 6,000 dying from superbug MRSA.
Protests to save the NHS continue all across the country. We call for them to be brought together in a united national campaign.
The protests planned by People United Saving Hospitals (PUSH) and by Keep Our NHS Public for the NHS anniversary day on 5 July can give a national focus and be a stepping stone towards a massive national demonstration on 13 October.
In The Socialist 21 June 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
War and terrorism
Socialist students and ISR
Workplace news and analysis
International socialist news