Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/433/5089
The Socialist 30 March 2006 |
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New Labour's NHS lies
MILLIONS OF pounds in deficit, jobs and services cut, healthcare
rationed, wards and hospitals closing - the NHS is in crisis. But who's
to blame? We expose the government's lies about the NHS.
Lie 1: "The deficits are mainly because hospitals have had to
pay for big pay rises for doctors and nurses."
Some senior doctors have been given large pay rises. But many NHS
staff are faced with effective pay cuts because of the Agenda for Change
job evaluation and pay review system. Many NHS staff are still on
chronically low wages. Now they are facing redundancy as well.
Lie 2: "The deficits are also because of a massive increase in
the drugs bill."
The cost of drugs has gone up and new drugs have become available to
treat more illnesses. But drug companies are some of the most profitable
in the world. They cost the NHS £10 billion a year, about 14% of total
If these companies were nationalised and controlled democratically as
an integral part of the health service, their resources could be
unleashed for the benefit of all, not just a few shareholders.
Lie 3: "The current NHS 'reforms' are all about giving patients
Survey after survey has shown that people are not so much concerned
about choice but about having a good hospital near where they live. The
reason New Labour keep emphasising choice is that they want hospitals to
compete with eachother. You can't have the madness of the market in the
NHS unless the 'consumers' make 'choices'.
Lie 4: "Payment by results is the most efficient way of
delivering health care."
Hospitals have gone into deficit because of underfunding and
privatisation. They then make cuts in services. But fewer services mean
a reduced income and a bigger deficit.
Payment by results means it's impossible to plan ahead with a secure
income. This is made worse by being forced by the government to hive off
15% of elective surgery to expensive private providers.
Lie 5: "Private companies can deliver health care cheaper than
Health economists estimate that it costs about £12 billion a year to
operate the market in the NHS. This is the cost of invoicing, management
consultants financial 'rescue' teams, marketing, advertising and
lawyers. None of this contributes anything to healthcare.
In the mid-1970s, before privatisation took hold, administration
amounted to about 5% of NHS spending. Now it's 20%.
Lie 6: "Everyone is still guaranteed good quality healthcare,
free at the point of use."
Pregnant women in Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea NHS Hospital in
London are being asked for £4,000 to ensure they get a named midwife
through their labour - recommended for all births. This is the beginning
of unequal healthcare - distributed on the basis of ability to pay.
Lie 7: "All these changes are improving the health service.
Anyway, the Tories made more cuts when they were in power."
"Patients are now going without care and suffering on a scale
which has not been seen since before the inception and creation of the
NHS in 1948 - all for the sake of the alleged gains to be had from
'market efficiency'". Allyson Pollock, a public health doctor and
author of NHS plc.