New Internationalist

The final nail in the NHS coffin

There is much anger, apparently, about the privatization of the National Health Service (NHS) in Britain but it’s the same old tired story… because it’s the same old suspects who seem to be active, aware and prepared to organize and fight – the Guardian-reading chattering classes.

Don't let NHS bleed placard
More people need to join the fight to save the NHS
C. G. P. Grey, under a CC License

But where’s the mass protest? Where’s the outrage? The majority haven’t a clue as to what’s happening, or so it seems – which is partly down to the calculated failure of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government to disseminate information in terms lay people can understand, and the appalling lack of coverage by the media – the BBC in particular.

But it’s also, in fact mainly, people’s ignorance and apathy. The working class is too busy shopping, boozing, watching reality TV and following the ludicrous antics of self-serving celebrities. The middle class is preoccupied with the price of Chardonnay, holidays in Provence and the cost of maintaining a second home.

Meanwhile, it will soon be too late for the NHS, which is being left wide open for more commercial companies to move in and make a profit from suffering, illness and disease. By 1 April 2013, the coalition government, with no mandate and with no parliamentary debate or further scrutiny, will pass legislation enabling the likes of Virgin and Circle to buy up whole swathes of the NHS.

And this country will no longer have a health service that is free at the point of need, publicly provided and available to all.

Labour politician and architect of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, said of the health service: ‘It will survive as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.’

I can’t imagine what Bevan would make of what is happening.

All I know is I feel ashamed. As should we all.

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  1. #1 Bill Rowlands 21 Mar 13

    We can unite, we can protest against it. This may be our last chance to be heard …

    Please share/Get involved

  2. #2 Bill Rowlands 21 Mar 13

    That link appears not to work -

    Or search - Lobby against NHS Privatisation | Tuesday 26th March

  3. #3 Anthony 21 Mar 13

    charge obese people for their treatment and we will save millios

  4. #4 Anthony 21 Mar 13

    ’#3 Anthony 21 Mar 13

    charge obese people for their treatment and we will save millios’

    I meant millions of pounds, not fatties

  5. #5 Alan 21 Mar 13

    Interesting idea Anthony... not sure about the ethics involved and unfortunately such suggestions only deflect from the real issues (like blaming all society's ills on so-called 'scroungers')... like grabbing back the billions of tax the super rich hive off each year. Then we should cut our nuclear arsenal which would save more billions and spend all this money on the NHS, education, affordable houses... the simple truth is the rich, represented by the Tory/LibDems are getting away, quite literally, with murder.
    I am often reminded of a quote by the late Michael Foot:
    We are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer: To hell with them. The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.

  6. #6 Penny Ormerod 22 Mar 13

    To see how the Lansley 'reforms' will work in practice, we need only look at what's happened to our out-of-hours service, which we now learn that 4 out of 5 people find inadequate. Yet this is the very model our caring coalition has chosen to roll out throughout the NHS on 1 April! More commercialised, massively more expensive, systematically and relentlessly downgraded services will be the NHS of the future, if Hunt has his way. Not everyone loses though: Harmoni, the largest out-of-hours provider in UK, might be so short-staffed that it is regularly unsafe and is currently at the centre of allegations that negligence led to the death of a 7-week old baby, but the 5 business-minded GPs who founded it are now multi-millionaires:
    And don't think you can bypass out-of-hours and go to straight to your local A&E - Hunt & Co are busy closing these down too. Just ask the citizens of Lewisham, Redditch, Charing Cross...

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About the author

Alan Hughes a New Internationalist contributor

Alan Hughes was a graphic artist at New Internationalist. He retired in 2014. He is a life-long socialist and trade unionist and is currently involved in the Keep Our NHS Public Campaign. He is passionate about The Beatles and has supported Aston Villa FC for over 50 years. He lives in Oxford with his daughter.

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