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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 July 2020

Tories using pandemic to privatise NHS more

Marching to save the NHS, 3.2.18, photo Mary Finch

Marching to save the NHS, 3.2.18, photo Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, secretary, Unite union Nottinghamshire Health Branch

Another 3 billion for the NHS to prepare for the coming winter, said the Tory government. NHS England had actually said it needed 10 billion.

And who decides where the money is spent? Is it raising low-paid health workers' pay and providing vitally needed jobs - or pumped to profit-seeking business?

In April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the NHS and vital public services would get "whatever they need." His July statement promised 15 billion for NHS PPE. These huge sums of money can sound impressive, even if too late for many who have become ill or died.

But at every step, the Tories have looked to channel public money to private business. Since the privatisation of NHS Logistics - by Tony Blair's 'New Labour' government - buying, stockpiling and distribution of supplies has been disorganised and run for profit.

In April, 350 million was awarded to private companies to procure PPE. Pestfix, a pest control company with just 16 employees, was awarded a 108 million contract to supply surgical gowns.

It turned out there had been an error - the contract was only for 32 million of gowns. Because of Pestfix's lack of assets, the government had to give it a deposit worth 75% of the value of the contract. Why couldn't the NHS place its own contract?

Another 18 million contract went to Aventis Solutions, a company reporting three employees and net assets of just 322 in June 2019.

These and other contracts were placed without tendering or competition. So much for the Tories' oft-repeated claims that the competitive capitalist market is more efficient than public services!

Governments have squeezed public services since the 1980s so they no longer have the people or facilities to cope with normal demands, let alone a pandemic.

Immediate restoration of past cuts is needed. All private contracts should be open to inspection by workers and trade unions, and brought back in-house. Privatised and outsourced NHS and other public services must be renationalised, under the democratic control of workers and service users.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 22 July 2020:


News

Fight for our livelihoods... fight for our lives!

Fight for the NHS

Huawei: what's behind Johnson's latest u-turn?

Mandatory masks in shops law: workers must not pay the price

Luton Council sunk by airport investment: fight for funding, not speculation!

Tories using pandemic to privatise NHS more

Them & Us


Unison

Hugely significant Tower Hamlets council workers' strike continues

Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary


No going back

Housing crisis: what now and after the pandemic?


Workplace news

United Left general secretary hustings shows widest debate needed for left in Unite

Nationalise Tata Steel to save jobs

Online rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!

Continue the fight to protect safety

Debenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Time to relaunch TUSC


Campaigns

I joined the Socialist Party to fight back

Wales arts cuts: Save every job

Trade unionists and artists stand with Maxine Peake

Bristol trans rights protest

Getting the Socialist over the summer


Music

Saving the music industry from pandemic and austerity


International news

Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

Israel: Nurses strike and win


Communist Party

100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain


Readers' opinion

Exciting Cuban spy thriller exposes US-sponsored terrorism

The Socialist inbox


 

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