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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 May 2005

Public health not private profit

DISABLED PEOPLE will have their benefit cut while big business get a £3 billion windfall from the NHS. There's no doubting whose side this third Labour government is on.

Christine Thomas

The private market for non-emergency treatment in the health service will be nearly doubled. The privateers will get their grubby hands on another quarter of a million patients, charging prices up to 15% above those in the NHS.

"To maximise profits these private providers are 'cherry picking' the high volume, low-risk routine procedures" wrote one surgeon in the Guardian during the election. "The result will increasingly be to leave the NHS to pick up the 40% to 50% of patients with more high-risk surgical needs... that will significantly increase the NHS hospitals' average cost per patient".

The market madness which has caused chaos on our railways is now taking over the NHS. Money will follow patients as hospitals 'compete' for business. Blair says this will increase patient choice. But hospitals which do not attract enough patients will end up cutting services and even closing down. What kind of choice is there if your local hospital is not 'competitive' enough, has to shut and the nearest hospital is miles away?

Between a third and a half of NHS trusts have failed to balance their books in the last financial year. Yet Blair is talking about making it easier for foundation hospitals to borrow money, taking them even further out of NHS control.

At the same time, private construction companies and banks will carry on making billions out of the Private Finance Initiatives, with taxpayers paying into their coffers for the next 30 years or more.

Privatisation and the 'dog eat dog' mentality of the market are destroying the NHS.

We say:

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In The Socialist 19 May 2005:

Public health not private profit

More bad news for economy

Hands off incapacity benefit

Standing for socialism at Blackheath High

Football: Fans protest at billionaire’s takeover

Desperate smears on George Galloway

E=mc2 - how Einstein changed our understanding of the universe

Revolt and repression in Uzbekistan

USA: Time to mobilise and fight back

The curse of long working hours

Royal Mail privatisation threat after workers deliver record profits

Firefighters urge union to face up to challenges

Week-long strike at London Met

Calls for an end to trade union passivity at Amicus conference


 

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