Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/502/3136
The Socialist 20 September 2007 |
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NHS: Our message to Labour
Keep your 'Sicko' views to yourself
A REPORT has been published for the right-wing think tank, the Kings Fund, by Sir Derek Wanless, former adviser to Gordon Brown. If accepted, it will be another nail in the coffin for a tax-funded, free at the point of use, health service.
His report questions whether or not the government can continue to fully fund the NHS given the demographic changes of the next 20 years.
He blames pay and price inflation for using up nearly half of the extra £43 billion increase in NHS funding since 2002.
He completely ignores the billions spent on treating NHS patients privately instead of investing that money for the long term into NHS resources, or the fact that the NHS is ripped off by the pharmaceutical companies and spends more on drugs and equipment than any other country in Western Europe.
And incredibly he doesn't even mention the millions going out of NHS budgets for patient care and staff wages to pay PFI consortiums. And a new report by the University of Edinburgh states that PFI costs to the NHS are to increase five-fold over the next eight years from £470 million to £2.3 billion.
The report also shows that hospital trusts who signed up for PFI schemes worth more than £50 million in 2005/6 are confronted with an average increase of 4.4% of their income going to meet these payments.
This is where the money's gone. How dare Wanless try to blame NHS staff, the majority of whom are on low wages and have now been awarded an insulting pay award below the rate of inflation?
And it is because of these soaring costs and pressure from central government to cut spending that NHS hospital trusts are making yet more cuts. The government wants to reduce NHS funding by a further £1 billion over the next year. Swansea NHS Trust says it faces a £15 million deficit unless it closes 86 beds and cuts around 750 jobs (see article below).
So where is all this leading? To a trimmed-down market-driven NHS ready for privatisation. Patricia Hewitt told us when she lectured at the LSE that the NHS would remain 'free at the point of use' whether or not the services were provided by private health care companies.
This is pie in the sky. You can't control what you don't own. A parallel private service is being developed using public money and it is opening the door to a fully two-tier system and private health care insurance.
Already, insurance companies are offering deals to people for drugs that are rationed or unavailable on the NHS and insurance to those who have to wait more than six weeks for treatment on the NHS.
One brief look at the reviews of Michael Moore's new film Sicko and the despicable treatment the clear-up workers from the 9/11 attacks received makes the horrors of the US's private health care system all too clear.
We don't need the NHS 'citizens' juries' proposed by health secretary Alan Johnson to show us what kind of health service we need. We know we have to fight the cuts and privatisation of the national health service.
- Build a mass campaign to defend the NHS.
- Come to the national demonstration in central London on 3 November.
- Big business out of the NHS.
- Say yes to a publicly run health service free at the point of use.