Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Tories will destroy the NHS

The Tories are now able to do something they have been dreaming about for years - the destruction of the NHS. Make no mistake about it - that is what privatisation of the NHS means. What makes the NHS unique is that it is a public service, publicly provided, and something we all pay collectively for. It's a great idea and it means that millions of people have access to decent healthcare who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it. The NHS is not perfect but, despite what the 'free' market fundamentalists would have you believe, it is still the envy of the world. Who wouldn't want a health service free at the point of delivery?

So, the NHS isn't perfect but what could be any better? Many of the problems of the NHS are because of  to the chronic underfunding it received under 18 years of successive right-wing Tory governments. Governments who believe that what you get should be based on your ability to pay, and that everything should be subsumed to the market its easy to run down public services so that they become unpopular with voters. That is what happened to health, education and the railways in those Tory years. Despite this neglect the NHS still remained popular.

What the marketeers want is a private take-over of the NHS. The NHS brand will remain as a fig leaf behind which the profiteers will be lurking. So what is wrong with privatising the NHS and introducing competition as the Coalition government proposes? The answers are well known. Private corporations will cherry pick the most 'profitable' parts of the NHS, leaving the difficult and expensive stuff to the public sector. The NHS will, in effect, be broken up. Costs will rise and quality will fall. The private sector has extra costs not borne by the public sector: marketing, administration, and of course profits. Healthcare in the UK costs half of what it does in the USA because of this. The NHS will become unaffordable leading to call for people to take out insurance on top of the taxes they already pay. We will end up paying more for less.

Anyone who doubts this should watch Michael Moore's excellent documentary Sicko which shows how individuals and families are bankrupted by healthcare costs, how many people suffer because they can't afford drugs or routine operations, and how the insurance companies avoid paying up. We must defend what is the most important of public services. Get involved and join the fightback against this shameful proposal which will destroy our most important institution.

No comments: