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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 October 2008

Comment

NHS props up the private profiteers

With the recent events in the world of high finance, we have seen many examples of the state bailing out private financial institutions. However this is not a new phenomenon. Within the field I work in, the NHS, the tab is frequently picked up for botch-ups within the private sector.

A practice nurse, Wales

Patients who have 'gone private' often sing the praises of the facilities. But it's easy for the private sector, they have no obligation to train staff or to actually provide a service in the first place - meaning no demand for beds or pressure to get people home quickly.

These private health companies can pick and choose the services they provide, ie the less risky, quick and cheap treatments. These profiteers can also register as charities, meaning they are exempt from corporation and capital gains tax.

Altogether this means there is extra money in the pot for decent staffing levels and also for nice furnishings, single rooms and a more comprehensive menu at mealtimes.

Questions are asked about what happened to the government's pre-election plans for single sex wards for the NHS?

Instead we have seen PFI hospitals, and GP surgeries being sold off, privatisation by stealth.

Private health care is used by many in Britain, whether to jump the queue or to experience the more luxurious surroundings. Some people may be able to afford a one off operation or their health insurance may cover it, but often they can't afford (or their policy doesn't cover) ongoing care when things go wrong.

Working as a practice nurse, I see patients suffering from wound complications, infection and other problems, bouncing back to the NHS from the private sector.

This may be for dressings with me, prescriptions for antibiotics (free on the NHS in Wales) or GP consultations.

Imagine the problems when you have a very anxious person having undergone breast enlargement surgery in the US, presenting with one side 'deflated', with no information about the procedure they have undergone or the implant materials used.

We do provide care for these people, despite our local health board strongly recommending we do not carry out blood tests etc for patients undergoing private care.

So what can be done? These private profiteers need to be removed from the picture and investment placed directly into the NHS, ensuring quality care for all.

People suffering from diseases such as cancer should be able to receive the life-extending drugs they are currently denied.

The Socialist Party demands nationalisation of the banks and financial institutions under democratic workers' control and management. It also calls for the integration of private health facilities into a democratically run NHS, free to all.

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In The Socialist 22 October 2008:


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'Why not save our jobs?'

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