Stop NHS privatisation now!

National Health ‘Wealth’ Service

Keep the NHS public! On the

Keep the NHS public! On the ‘Save the NHS’ march, 3 November 2007 , photo Paul Mattsson

GORDON BROWN’S government is dismantling the National Health Service at an ever-faster rate by pushing ahead with privatisation. US health care shark United Health has just been fined record amounts for refusing health insurance claims. However, this doesn’t stop our government awarding them contracts to run health services here.

Lois Austin

United Health has just taken over three GP surgeries in London. Local GPs who also tried to bid for the services were not given a cat in hell’s chance of winning against this huge multinational giant, the largest health corporation in the US.

This latest contract gives them control of Brunswick Medical Centre, Camden Road and Kings Cross practices.

Contracts like these should send a shock wave through the trade unions and our communities. One local GP put in a bid, intending to spend £100 on each patient where United Health is going to spend just £75. The GP commented: “This is another example of a cut-price privatised service being imposed… patients will suffer as a result”.

The tentacles of private health care firms are still coiling around the NHS, they plan to grab as much of it as they can. They are bidding to buy up 150 new GP surgeries nationwide. The British Medical Association are right to say that “there are firms out to make a fast buck”.

One such firm is Richard Branson’s Virgin, which wants to get its greedy hands on public money and turn it into profits for its top shareholders. Virgin plans to rent out buildings and medical services to the NHS and to GPs.

These profiteering vultures can’t even ensure that trains from Euston to north-west England run on time, let alone act as custodians for Britain’s health!

Privatisation, and the preparation for it, is leading to massive cuts across the health service. Queen Mary hospital in Sidcup is one sacrificial lamb paying the price with drastic cuts to services because of soaring payments to neighbouring hospitals partly built under the private finance initiative (PFI).

The local health economy is being sucked dry and the only place to cut is Queen Mary’s because it is still owned by the NHS. Health managers are tied to PFI payments and fear breaking them because they will incur huge fines from the PFI consortiums involved.

Gordon Brown is sticking true to his New Year pledge of stepping up the pace of pro-market NHS ‘reform’. From April doctors, when offering a list of hospitals for patients to choose from under the ‘choose and book’ scheme, will have a statutory obligation to include private hospitals on the list.

All the attacks on the National Health Service are causing immense anger amongst patients and health workers alike. But where is the response from the trade union leaders to mount a struggle in defence of the NHS? Let’s build campaigns in our communities and workplaces capable of turning back the market madness which has gripped hold of our NHS.