Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/399/4872
Kick out the private sector parasites
Labour declares war on the NHS
HEALTH SECRETARY Patricia Hewitt, on behalf of the government and the private companies it represents, has declared war on our National Health Service. Under her 'payment by results' scheme wards, even whole hospitals, will be forced to close down if they don't attract enough patients.
Hewitt suggests these measures are carried through now so these issues don't surface close to the next general election. The government can see how unpopular this will be!
The NHS in England was £140 million in the red last year with a quarter of trusts failing to break even. Already wards and hospitals are threatened with closure - this will grow as Hewitt has warned that after 2008 there will be no more increases in the NHS budget.
Dr Jacky Davis, a member of the NHS Consultants Association says: "A government that has done everything it can to expand the role of the private sector in the NHS is unlikely to bail hospitals out this time... The private sector will not support the NHS but compete with it, and NHS units and hospitals that cannot compete will close."
Socialist Party members in West London are campaigning against Charing Cross hospital being sold off to private health insurer Bupa! They will provide state-of-the-art cancer care but only for private patients.
NHS hospitals will have to compete with privately funded hospitals and GP surgeries as well as with each other. The NHS chief executive has suggested that trusts "adopt the same marketing techniques as Tesco in their bids to win customers in the new choice-based NHS market."
Hospital staff, patients and all of us who rely on the NHS oppose the privatisation of our health service. A recent YouGov poll showed that 89% of voters believe that public services such as NHS hospitals should not be run by private companies for profit.
Another survey revealed that people were least interested in having a choice of where to go for an operation, ranking cleaner hospitals and better A&E departments as priorities.
While hospital staff face redundancies and our wards and hospitals are threatened with closure the private market for NHS clinical services is expected to reach £2 billion by 2007.
Since Labour came to power in 1997 12,000 beds have been axed but private companies have made record profits from our health service. As the president of the British Medical Association says that: "The NHS is at a crossroads."
Hewitt's proposals represent privatisation of the NHS on a scale not seen before. This Labour government are intent on killing off our National Health Service. And they will succeed unless the NHS unions, the trade union movement as a whole and the working class people who rely on the NHS go into battle.
We must demand that privatisation is rooted out of our health service and ensure that the NHS is adequately funded and democratically run.
In The Socialist 30 June 2005: