Save the NHS, Save the Country!
My recent Facebook status read:
“For anyone on my friend’s list who thinks privatised healthcare is a good thing:
(a) Do you think a person with six pre-existing chronic conditions will find affordable insurance?;
(b) Do you think a person who is on two different forms of medication for the rest of their life will be able to find affordable insurance?;
(c) Do you think that a person with a pre-existing condition that will require chemo/radiotherapy/expensive cancer drugs at some point in the future but is unable to pinpoint when, will be able to find affordable insurance?
If you have answered no to any of those questions, are you still happy with privatised healthcare being introduced in this country as a result of this?
If you have said yes, you have just denied me healthcare, and probably killed me, so please delete me from your friends list. Thanks.
(The intent of this is to personalise the issue and to show how this will affect people in real life. This is why the problems with the NHS have me scared to the point of panic and avoidance of the issue).”
I am bloody terrified; having literal panic attacks at the thought of what is happening, has been happening, and will happen to the institution beloved by the majority* of people in this country, and what that will mean for me personally. It’s a painful irony, and not a funny one, that the decreases in mental health funding and the crisis in the NHS is exacerbating mental health conditions and triggering stress flare-ups in chronic pain conditions for so many.
This is not some fearful fantasy cooked up by the left in a bid to defame the government. After all, it is not just the current Conservative and previous coalition of Conservative and Liberal Democrat governments which have caused the crisis. Originally implemented in 1992 under the Conservative government of John Major, PFI was expanded across the board under the ‘new Labour’ government of Tony Blair to include a large injection of funds to the National Health Service. Repaying these loans which charged interest above the standard rate left many Trusts in dire straits and directly led to the Save Lewisham Hospital A&E & Children’s/Maternity services campaign, which took Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health since 2012, and won.
He has since seen to it that the law has been amended so this does not happen again.
The Telegraph newspaper wrote in July 2015 that “The bill for private finance initiative (PFI) hospital schemes will hit £2 billion for the first time this year – or £3,729 every 60 seconds.”**
That is profit for private healthcare companies coming out of the NHS budget, which loans charge interest and have led to severe shortages in NHS provision and swingeing cuts across the board.
A friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous, informed me of their personal experience:
“I’ve worked for a business delivering NHS services; … I was a Practice Manager. GP Partnerships have a primary interest in being doctors, doing what they do to help the masses. A business’ primary interest is… making money! So they have ghost patients (people who’ve moved abroad/away and have not re-registered with an alternative GP practice), they cut corners, they squeeze as much as they can from the staff, both clinical & administrative, they buy cheap equipment, have no interest in training staff to improve their skills, don’t follow “Good Practice Guidelines” when it comes to infection control (flooring & furniture that cannot be easily decontaminated), amongst other things because they don’t have to & because it’ll cut into their profits. I left because… IT FRIGHTENED ME – it would only be a matter of time, until something went drastically wrong. Apparently they got through 3 Practice Managers in a year, because none of us would lower our standards to suit “the business”… but it was an insight into what would be if we lost the NHS.”
This diagram shows the cost to the NHS simply for building new premises, as a result of PFI funding:
If the NHS is forced into showing a profit for shareholders through funding from private initiatives, it is no longer putting patients first. The fundamental principles upon which the NHS was founded by Aneurin (Nye) Bevan, on 5th July 1948, were***:
- that it meet the needs of everyone
- that it be free at the point of delivery
- that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
These will no longer apply and indeed given the creeping privatisation already occurring, it could be said that they don’t apply already.
On Saturday 4th March 2017 there will be a National Demonstration starting at Tavistock Square, London at 12 noon in support of the NHS, organised by the People’s Assembly. Further, and if you read this in time, there is an initial NHS Day of Action on Saturday 14th January.
To keep up to date on all NHS campaigns, and for useful tips on how to keep the momentum of protest and organisation going, go to the Stop the STPS homepage.
If you can’t attend the demonstration (or even if you can), write to your MP (details of whom can be found at They Work For You, along with their voting record if you are interested), sign petitions constantly in circulation, talk about the NHS and what it means to you, and keep the pressure on.
We are being watched by millions across the world, aghast at what we are doing to the best service our country has ever introduced. The only people who do not feel shocked and empathise with our fears are those who will profit from privatisation, and those people are not the ones who so desperately need the NHS.
Don’t let anyone tell you the funding isn’t there. In 2016 the government agreed to spend over £200billion on renewing Trident, our nuclear weapons stock. An increase in taxes on the very rich, introduction of the Robin Hood Tax and closing up of tax loopholes exploited by individuals and businesses would more than meet the funding deficit.
You may not need the NHS much now, but we are an ageing and increasing population. You will need it eventually and maybe sooner than you think. Do all you can to make sure it is still there. SAVE THE NHS. You never know, the life you save could be your own.