Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Save the NHS

Until now, no party could realistically hope to be the government unless it declared that the “NHS is safe in our hands”.  In his attempt to re-brand the Tories, David Cameron went so far as claiming that they were the “party of the NHS”.

But now the Tories are in power, the mask has slipped. Their plans for NHS reform – which weren’t mentioned in their manifesto – threaten the very existence of the NHS as a free public service.  As an investigation in the magazine Red Pepper shows: “In place of a public service we will have a profit-driven healthcare market.”

Red Pepper sets out how powerful business interests have lobbied for years to get access to the huge NHS budget. New Labour tried to bring the market into the health system, and only partly succeeded. But now there is a government that is determined to change the face of the NHS once and for all.

Already, cuts of up to £20 billion are being made in the NHS. And these cuts are going to have a devastating effect. Hospitals around the country are cutting back on essential operations – cataracts and hip replacements for example.

This is just the beginning. If the NHS becomes a marketplace for private companies to trade, then many more people will be told it just isn’t ‘cost-effective’ to treat them.

As the Red Pepper article concludes: “..the injustice that will flow from the loss of the NHS will be massive. It will change the face of English society more profoundly than the poll tax. And it will be for all practicable purposes irreversible – unless we stop it now, all of us resisting in whatever way we can.”