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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2021

Tories admit market failure - we want our NHS back!

Kick out the Privatisers! photo: Paul Mattsson

Kick out the Privatisers! photo: Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

In the middle of the Covid pandemic, a leaked government draft white paper has revealed the Tories' plans to reorganise the NHS in England. It has been trumpeted in the press as a reversal of "controversial privatisation policies" introduced by David Cameron in 2012, and that the government is 'taking back control' of the NHS.

Despite the heroism of NHS workers, the years of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation of the NHS have left it struggling to cope with Covid. Nine years ago, the Con-Dem coalition government's Health and Social Care Act increased the fragmentation and privatisation in the NHS, and devolved some of the powers of the health secretary to unelected quangos. But this just continued a process that began with the introduction of the 'internal market' under a previous Tory government and was massively accelerated under Tony Blair's Labour.

The white paper in effect accepts the failure of the 2012 Act - that it increased disintegration in the NHS - and says: "In practice, the NHS has not operated as the market intended by the 2012 Act".

However, is this Tory government really intending to reverse privatisation and increase accountability when it returns powers to the health secretary? Readers of the Socialist will know that will not be the case!

The experience of the government using the pandemic as an excuse to hand over more contracts to big business shows its real intentions. Billions have been handed to profiteering companies for track and trace, PPE, private laboratories, and private hospitals. The white paper says "there will continue to be an important role for voluntary and independent sector providers", in other words private companies.

The document proposes legislation to make 'integrated care systems' statutory bodies in the NHS, including the participation of 'voluntary and independent sector partners'. These are bodies that are already being developed by NHS England to take over the commissioning of NHS services from the ones set up by the 2012 Act, and will also be part of a further privatisation process.

A few years ago, Leicester Socialist Party members played a key role in a massive campaign to save the Glenfield Children's Heart Centre under threat from the biggest quango of all, NHS England. We won that campaign, but there is no doubt, despite 'independence' from the government, they were working to its plan. Now, through the Save Our NHS Leicestershire campaign, we have been fighting the undemocratic local NHS bodies' plans to reorganise our hospitals, including the closure of one and an inadequate bed provision for the future.

'Bringing back control of the NHS' to this Tory government will not result in real accountability! We need the NHS to be genuinely democratically run by elected and accountable committees including service workers and users. But to do this we also need to reverse all privatisation and have a properly funded and integrated NHS - nationalising private health care, the medical supply industry, and the pharmaceutical companies.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 10 February 2021:


News

Tories admit market failure - we want our NHS back!

Question mark over AstraZeneca's vaccine to protect against new Covid variant

Big Energy piles on the misery

News in brief


Racism

Black Workers' Charter: A programme to fight racism


Grenfell

Grenfell: Are we any closer to justice?


TUSC

TUSC online conference: Preparing to build a working-class force for the local elections in May

Ex-Labour socialists preparing to stand for TUSC in Devon


Workplace news

Striking British Gas workers fighting to win

PCS: Vote for rank-and-file socialist Broad Left Network candidates

Hackney schools workers to strike

York couriers call on council for protection from "fear of dismissal"

Court workers to ballot in fight for safety

NSSN meeting: Fight together against the Tories and bosses' Covid offensive


International news

Myanmar coup - For a workers-led struggle for democracy and socialism!

Turkey: Bogaziçi university students protest appointment of government loyalist as rector


Campaigns and party news

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a nurse

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a student

London fire victims lobby Tory mayoral candidate

Why you should come to Socialist Students online conference


Readers' opinion

Covid and pregnancy

Book that inspired me: God's bits of wood

Starmer ditches Labour movement tradition for cheap trick

The Socialist Inbox


 

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