The destruction of our NHS has happened without any democratic mandate and with very little public awareness. Our NHS is possibly the greatest achievement our country has ever made. It was once the jewel in our crown and the envy of the rest of the world. But on 1 July, it underwent another major top down reorganisation. Some described it as being the total destruction of our healthcare service. I accept that it feels we are banging our heads against a brick wall. But, as some will recall, I started off this campaign because of my gran.
She was a war widow, a nurse and a midwife. By the 1930s she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she was unable to continue her work she lost her job, and medical insurance. Without the NHS or social services she was unable to care for herself. So she gassed herself on fumes from her coal fire.
I get totally despondent with todays political scene. I feel the negativity and certainly the exhaustion. But I truly believe that unless we somehow restore our NHS my gran’s story will be repeated. If I ever feel like giving up the fight for our NHS I look at her photo and know I can’t.
The state of our NHS today
So with all that said, what are we really up against now? Just two days ago our NHS in England was divided into 42 separate healthcare systems. The changes are substantial and nobody knows how much it will all cost to implement. Or how long it will take. There are many uncertainties about what this will mean. Things we will not know until they start to happen. But the potential is there for this to be the final nail in the coffin for our NHS. It is not by accident that our NHS now has a structure remarkably like the US system.
Plenty has been written about why this new structure is ridden with possible pitfalls and a serious threat to healthcare. But rather than reiterate any comprehensive analysis of this new top down reorganisation. Perhaps it is better we ask ourselves why? Or indeed why we have seen successive governments since 1948 all move away from the basic principles our NHS was founded on.
Why we need to keep the fundamental principles upon which the NHS was formed
Numerous studies from around the world have compared different healthcare systems. Many show that a publicly run and publicly provided healthcare service, paid for by taxation is the most efficient and equitable system possible. Numerous studies have also shown that for every £1 invested in public health, our economy will grow by £2-4. It seems the truth is, we need our NHS as it was originally set up. Those fundamental principles upon which the NHS was built need to be preserved, not demolished.
Our NHS as a way out of economic decline
Our country is now teetering on the edge of recession again. Workers are demoralised and the cost of living is rapidly escalating. Workers have opted for industrial action to fight against poverty wages and appalling working conditions. But the unions also need to consider their workers health. We all have a vested interest in workers staying healthy and investment in health being used to aid our economy.
Those seeking profit out of the NHS have tempted politicians away from the principles on which the NHS was formed. Extremely wealthy private health lobbying corporations have been relentless. Tempted by back handers, offers of lucrative positions and personal investments our politicians sold us out. But we live with an economic system that began under Thatcher. The eventual privatisation of the NHS was started back in the 1970s. And there was no democratic mandate then for the introduction of this style of economics.
Destruction of the public sector services began with Thatcher
The Ridley report published in 1977 sets out proposals for how Britain’s public sector industries can be privatised. The report describes how cuts to funding that create failings in a service, will result in the population welcoming privatisation as a solution. This is the tactic Thatcher used to privatise British Rail. The Ridley report states that it would take 20 to 30 years for the NHS to be fully privatised. Do we want to see our healthcare service in the same shambolic state our rail service is in?
I could write extensively about what is happening to our NHS and why it is both unnecessary and harmful. But the information is already out there in numerous books, films and websites. So I will just finish today by asking that if you are in favour of privatisation, outsourcing, cuts to staff wages or cuts to funding you explain to me why?
If anyone is interested in knowing more about what an American style healthcare system would be like, I have a film called Sicko by Michael Moore. I would urge you to just watch that. If anyone is interested in knowing more about this style of economics and politics referred to as neo-liberal economics or free market economics then Naomi Klein’s book Shock Doctrine is a brilliant resource.
If you want to see our NHS, its workers and the economy of our country recover than please engage with this campaign or any other ‘save the NHS campaign’. But lets not forget that neglecting the care of those who are sick is immoral. I think as a nation we are better than that.