Tory bribes don’t hide destruction of NHS

Nurses marching for the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

Nurses marching for the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

In 2010 every Tory candidate in our county, Gloucestershire, received a donation from a hedge fund manager with interests in private healthcare, yet at the same time there was a Cameron-led election campaign pledging full support to the NHS.

Local Tory MP Mark Harper, who fought closures of the community hospitals, went on to vote for the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 which opened the floodgate of privatisation. Across Britain the story is the same: Tory and Lib Dem MPs claiming to support the NHS while voting for every measure designed to destroy it.

With a general election looking likely, Boris Johnson has made three announcements of more funding for the NHS in the same number of days. £1.8 billion to upgrade 20 hospitals sounds impressive but the Nuffield Trust think tank has said that in reality £3.2 billion would be needed for this.

They also point out that to make meaningful improvements to NHS services each NHS trust would need at least £160 million – a total of £33 billion nationally.

Johnson’s promise, designed to impress voters, is no remedy to the crisis in the NHS, nor will it restore privatised services to public ownership.

The story of Cheltenham A&E is just one example. Night-time closure of Cheltenham A&E has already placed huge pressures on Gloucestershire Royal Hospital as well as on the ambulance services. We’ve also seen the closure of minor injury units.

In the last few years there have been demonstrations of many hundreds of people in towns across Gloucestershire against privatisation and cuts with varying degrees of success. We don’t need election bribes; we need a sustained, coordinated campaign, massively supported by the healthcare unions and a Labour Party wholly committed to restoring the NHS.

Boris Johnson has also promised £250 million investment in artificial intelligence to improve the NHS. It’s an insult to our intelligence to imagine the NHS will ever be safe in Tory hands.

Gloucestershire Socialist Party