31 January 2018

Is the NHS being privatised?

Image by kind permission of: NHS Solidarity
Following the 1948 Public Health Act the Secretary of State for Health had a legal obligation to provide universal health care.  In 2012, by passing the Health and Social Care Act, the Coalition Government removed the duty to provide universal heath care and have enshrined in law instead the right of the Secretary of State for Health to develope a marketised, insurance based healthcare system.  Six years on and Drs and Nurses on the frontline tell us that the NHS is being privatised, contract-by-contract, right under their noses.


Professor Allyson Pollock is Director of the Institute of Health and Society

So where's the saving made when contracting out chunks of the NHS? Surely, for an organisation with such a fantastically well motivated staff, outsourcing is a distraction and just adds on another tier of management. On top of the beaurocratic cost of outsourcing healthcare, there's the reality that part of the money spent on buying in NHS services goes straight into the pockets of the private business owners that, quite naturally, want a slice of the action. 

Managers, spending their days trying to decide between competing healthcare suppliers while sick patients stuck in ambulances, or being treated in privately owned hospital car parks, must be agonisingly difficult, but this is what a marketised healthcare system involves.  Privatisatisation of the NHS is unwanted, unnecessary and, worst of all, is failing the public miserablly - but it doesn’t have to be like this.

If in 1948, after being bankrupted by two World Wars, the UK could afford to provide Universal Health Care, why is it today, as the sixth largest economy in the World after France, that we are told that the Government can't afford a publically run Health Service?  And why is it that the Government conditions us to expect that the only way forward for the NHS is to systematically outsource healthcare contract-by-contract to private companies? 

The argument that the UK can't afford the NHS is a mendacious myth put about by smart-suited Government PR men selling the lie to unwitting NHS Managers that the only way to save the NHS is through the miracle of private enterprise.  NHS management is torn between their belief in the provision of Universal Healthcare enshrined in the 1948 Act and the certain knowledge their employment is dependent on the inexorable shift towards a marketised healthcare system that has removed by law the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide Universal Healthcare for all.

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