This caught my eye on facebook. I haven’t read all of it; I pressed CTRL-F and searched for ‘NHS’. The arguments appear well constructed and argued. As one would expect; it is a well-put together book -IF you are preaching to the converted. The thing is… I don’t agree with their analysis because I don’t agree with the perspective with which they view the NHS.
The statement of intent is quite clear. Under the guise of “providing patients with choice and the power to make decisions” the authors state that the means to provide this is to allow ‘free market competition’ to pervade every aspect of how the NHS is supplied, constituted and operated. Whether you apply the American or the German/European model of health insurance, the health service ends up driven by the principal need for profit; those treatments which are not a ‘cheap and cheerful’ fix or are unprofitable will be sidelined. We must preserve the post war ideal of the NHS as being available to all, whether wealthy or in poverty. The three core principles of its 1948 launch 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.
The NHS Constitution of March 2011 expanded this to seven princples. You can read those here: NHS Constitution for England.
We should not be surprised that when a politician publishes a book, that they intend to forge the ideas contained in that volume into a reality. You cannot say we were not forewarned.
Every member of the Labour Party and every member of a trade union should oppose the insurgencies of private enterprise, ‘lean management’ and inter-departmental competition which are tools to break up the NHS piecemeal. Staffing and the terms and conditions pertaining thereto have always been an issue; the NHS is -and should always be- people focused. We need to support our doctors and nurses – and just as importantly – other healthcare workers, assistants and ancillary staff, without whom the hospitals and clinic could not function. Don’t forget that when it comes to freeing hospitals from ‘superbugs’, that Infection Control are crucial and that Cleaners are the front line operators. (Yes, they deserve a capital ‘C’.)
Sign petitions, demonstrate, circulate on Facebook, write to your MP here and urge your fields and family in other constituencies to do likewise. We have a National Health Service and it is not to be broken up and sold into fiefdoms of inequality where it is pot luck whether the scope of your treatment varies with geography, income or both.
Since publication of this book, since ‘the coalition government’ in 2010 we have seen the biggest transformation of the NHS since the privatisation fever of the Thatcher era. Don’t be fooled that ‘Sustainability & Transformation‘ is benign. Huge resources are being devoted to deconstruct the NHS once and for all. If we do not act it will be gone forever; just a memory that we will have an anguished wish for in time of family crisis.