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Democrat March-April 2012 (No.128)

Banging the Cabinet table

Like the energy, water, railway and transport industries the NHS has been turned into a conduit for privateers and profit. Added to this list is education and the very latest being roads and toll roads down the track. The initial appearance is that not much will change with the continued wide use of the blue NHS symbol. However, the National Health Service is no longer a service but a market place which just turns the NHS symbol into a brand name. This is like the appearance of red buses in London which largely hides the fact they are privatised.

Those who work in and have devoted themselves to the NHS have had their careers and pensions seriously interfered with by the imposition of contracts or had these contracts curtailed altogether.

The NHS is subject to a reduction in real terms of financial resources as part of massive public sector cuts which includes jobs and posts. Hospitals are in financial trouble because of the disastrous PFI schemes specially designed to milk the NHS and the tax payer. Already everybody knows there aren’t enough physiotherapists, speech therapists, midwives and other specialists besides nurses and carers for the elderly.

Competition was introduced some time ago with private hospitals, dental and other services taking advantage of NHS hospital facilities. Following this thin edge of a large wedge the market place for health is now wide open for the free marketeers. The Prime Minister stating the “NHS is not for sale” is a blatant misleading lie. The report that the Cabinet banged the table after the Health Bill was approved in Parliament is nauseating to say the least.

The Lib-Dems are to blame for taking part in this Con-Dem Government which has pushed through this reactionary Bill against all common sense and widespread opposition.

The Labour Party which seems to be afraid of its own shadow and history has to take a large share of blame for this backward step, along with trade union leaders who seem not to do the correct thing despite demands of their members.

Added together the overall effect of the neo-liberal free market can be likened to throwing a pack of cards in the air and letting them come down in any haphazard order face up or face down for the privateers to take their pick and profit. This is being done without any rational thought to the social, health or political consequences, except for the financial factor which has turned money into a god.

The whole business is part of the general thrust of common EU policies put in place by all governments of the EU Member States. This includes the removal of any credible accountability.

What has to be done now is to expose and oppose the privatisation where it occurs as many times as possible. In the meantime as much pressure as possible must be brought to bear so that we ensure MPs are elected to reverse matters and re-establish the NHS with full financial resources and services.