Health before profit Kick private vultures out of NHS

Gareth Bromhall, ambulance service worker

The NHS is on its knees, with A&E waits at unprecedented lengths, ambulance response times growing, and routine procedures and referrals taking longer than they ever have.

Once a world-beating and ground-breaking example of socialised medicine and public ownership, our health service, still held up proudly as one of the great victories of the working class, is facing an existential crisis.

But it has not failed, it is being failed, and the role of the bosses and their politicians in its destruction is plain to see. Steve Barclay, Tory health and social care minister, has announced plans to increase the use of private providers to clear waiting list back logs and private diagnostic hubs for routine testing. This is the latest example of the push toward NHS privatisation that has been waged since its foundation, ramped up over the last few decades.

This will mean more private companies profiting from our health, attacking staff conditions to keep costs down, and it won’t solve the crisis the NHS is facing – a lack of the resources needed to truly provide universal healthcare.

The answer from the Labour Party? The exact same strategy. Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting criticised the Tories for not going to the private sector sooner! The NHS is not safe in their hands either.

The strikes over the past year, by nurses, doctors, radiographers, paramedics, clinicians and call handlers in the ambulance services, across the country, have shown the power of the NHS workforce as they take action on pay and conditions, and also for the future of the service itself.

We say put health before profit! We need a party that will back workers taking action and with a socialist programme that places at its heart the fight for a fully funded health and social care service, under democratic workers’ control. A health service planned to meet the physical, mental and public health needs of the entire population is possible. By restoring all that had been privatised, scrapping PFI debt, nationalising the wider private and third-sector providers and expanding the health services’ scope. Nationalising the pharmaceutical, medical equipment and other connected industries as part of a genuine planned economy is vital to achieve this.

On this basis, planning for health not for profit, we could have a health service that puts us ahead of what makes a profit for a few.