URGENT: Save the NHS Now! Legislation Enforcing Privatisation Will Be Passed in a Month Unless We Act

UPDATE 7.30pm, Feb. 25: The campaigning group 38 Degrees has now launched its own official petition calling for a debate on the provisions for implementing enforced competition in almost all NHS services, which the Tories had been hoping would pass in a month’s time without even being noticed. There appear to be no depths to which these butchers of the state will not sink. Please sign this and share it as widely as you can. It already has nearly 20,000 signatures, and the target is 60,000 by the end of today. Note: This petition is in addition to the one launched by Charles West, mentioned below.

Where is the outrage in the mainstream media?

For the past week I have been receiving messages via email or on Facebook from concerned friends and/or organisations warning me that the government is sneakily pushing through new legislation which will force all Clinical Commissioning Groups — the GP-led practices, which, from April, will be responsible for 80 percent of the NHS budget — to go through a marketplace for all new NHS service contracts.

As the campaigning group 38 Degrees explains in an urgent new petition, regulations relating to section 75 of the wretched Health and Social Care Act (Andrew Lansley’s NHS privatisation bill, which was passed last year) “require virtually all health provision to be carried out in competitive markets, regardless of the wishes of either local people, GPs or local Clinical Commissioning Groups. They contradict assurances that were given by health ministers during the passage of the Act that it did not mean the privatisation of the NHS, and that local people would have the final say in who provided their NHS.”

The silence in most of the mainstream media regarding these plans — in the BBC, for example — has been deafening, although today, the Daily Mirror has become involved, with an article entitled, “Tories’ hidden privatisation plan revealed,” and on Friday, in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee’s contribution was an informative article entitled, “The Lib Dems must not stand for any more lies over the NHS,” in which she noted how NHS dissent over the Health and Social Care Act was only quelled through public assurances from ministers that there would be no enforced privatisation of services, which “seemed convincingly cast-iron.” Read the rest of this entry »

Save the NHS: A Doctor’s Moving Defence of Her Profession, and How Care is More Important Than Budgets

Yesterday, I published an article about the Tory-led coalition government’s ongoing attempts to destroy the NHS, after the health minister Andrew Lansley issued a new set of amendments to his Health and Social Care Bill, in an attempt to suppress dissent in the House of Lords, which only succeeded in prompting GPs and physiotherapists to issue their own official opposition to the bill.

It is but no means clear that the government can be persuaded to scrap its bill, as the entire rationale for the coalition government’s existence seems to be to remove whatever remains in public ownership and to hand it over to the private sector, even though that particular approach to politics is exactly the opposite of what we need, after the unfettered greed of bankers and the private sector led to the economic crash of 2008, whose reverberations have, perhaps fatally, undermined the economic health of the West, even while, in the UK, cynical and thoroughly unqualified ideologues like David Cameron and George Osborne attempt to pin all the blame for Britain’s economic woes on the poor, the unemployed and the disabled.

This approach — and the way it is being lapped up by a majority of the British people — marks a particularly low point in my lack of respect for politicians or my fellow citizens, and I’ll be writing more about it soon, but for now, in an effort to maintain the focus on the NHS, and the need for persistent opposition to the government’s plans from anyone who understands how extraordinary it is to have a health service paid for by general taxation, which is free at the point of entry and exit, and how important it is to hold onto this service, I’m cross-posting below an article by Dr. Clare Gerada, the chair of the Royal College of GPs — whose members last week voiced their considerable opposition to the government’s planned reforms — which was published in October in the Guardian. Read the rest of this entry »

Save the NHS: 100,000 GPs and Physiotherapists Call for Health Bill to be Scrapped

Ever since the coalition government introduced its Health and Social Care Bill, it has been obvious that what was planned was nothing less than the destruction of the NHS as a universal healthcare provider, and the gradual privatisation of the service, leading to greater profits for private companies and, simultaneously, cuts to services.

Understanding this, the professional bodies representing those who actually work in the NHS have opposed the bill. Amongst other bodies, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have opposed the government’s plans, and last week, in an editorial published simultaneously in the British Medical Journal, the Health Service Journal and Nursing Times, the editors of those magazines described the government’s plans as a “damaging … unholy mess,” and stated that the NHS “is far too important to be left at the mercy of ideological and incompetent intervention” and that “we must make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

In a second British Medical Journal editorial last week, Kieran Walshe, professor of health policy at Manchester Business School, explained how abandoning the bill now would save over £1bn in 2013. As he explained, “Going ahead with the bill means setting up the NHS Commissioning Board (with an annual running cost of £492m), 260 clinical commissioning groups (with an annual running cost of £1.25bn), and the new economic regulator, Monitor (with its anticipated annual running cost of £82m). Each of these new statutory organisations will have additional set-up costs — perhaps amounting to a one-off spend of £360m. If the bill were stopped now, it would save all those set-up costs, and at least £650m in annual running costs — just over £1bn in 2013.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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