• Scrap the debt, reverse the cuts, kick out the privatisers
Nurses marching for the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

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

Mayola Demmenie, Basingstoke Socialist Party

Cuts and privatisation mean NHS trusts now have debts so high they might never be repaid, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO recently published two damning reports on the state of the NHS’s finances. One was on the debt, totalling £10.9 billion in March 2019.

The other was on the capital budget, which covers replacement and maintenance of equipment and buildings. The Department for Health and Social Care is using money earmarked for upkeep as loans to NHS trusts to pay for the day-to-day running of hospitals.

This results in a backlog of maintenance work – worth £6.5 billion – and increased risk of harm to patients. It also adds to the dangerous amount of debt.

These debts must be scrapped immediately, and full funding to save the NHS from complete collapse urgently restored. Much of the money could be found within the pharmaceutical industry and other private companies supplying the NHS while raking in unimaginable profits.

Those companies should be nationalised, with compensation only paid on the basis of proven need, not to super-rich owners. A state-owned pharmaceutical and supplies industry could also provide the NHS with cheap medicines and equipment.

Boris Johnson says austerity is over – so where’s the money? Trade unions in the NHS should demand the money back and the outsourcers kicked out – and build for protests, strikes, and occupations if necessary to win the needed change. This could stop the government deliberately running the NHS into the ground and privatising more and more of it.