privatisation of the NHS is not something to be feared in the future.
It is already happening.
Thatcher denationalised many industries, but the popularity of the
NHS meant that the privateers would need to move more stealthily. But
move they would.
1986 hospital cleaning services were privatised followed soon after
by new-builds, catering and diagnostics. Two years later Tory MPs
Oliver Letwin and John Redwood published “Ideas for Radical Reform
of the NHS” which advocated encouraging further joint ventures with
the private sector and the introduction of fees.
Blair’s 1997 National Health Service Act adopted Letwin/Redwood’s
ideas, by turning NHS hospitals into trusts, and encouraging them to
operate as commercial businesses.
GP described these changes as “how to get turkeys not only voting
for Christmas, but also plucking, basting and putting themselves into
companies have been increasingly encouraged to franchise for NHS
services, with the UK divided into 44 ‘footprint’ areas
encouraged to amalgamate hospitals and shrink specialist units.
country’s bed-to-patient ratio is today one of the lowest in any
developed country. A&E units have been cut from 144 (five years
ago) to about 50 today. At least 1000 GP practices have closed in
the last five years and patients are encouraged to use privately
owned app consultancies. The result is that GPs are merging their
practices into competitive organisations, open to takeover by private
companies such as Virgin Healthcare.
deliberate blurring of the distinction between public and private
healthcare, the rationing of non-urgent operations as well as
increased waiting times, encourages a move to private treatment. And
how many of you knew that The Practice Group, the UK’s largest GP
network, is owned by US company Centene.
health service with primary loyalty to shareholders makes them more
costly than state-funded services. John Furse, writing in The London
Review of Books, estimates that private involvement in healthcare
adds at least £9 billion a year to the NHS budget with the result
£13.7 billion of
are running out of time to save the NHS and without a Corbyn-led
Labour government we can kiss goodbye to Aneurin Bevan’s principle
of “healthcare free at the point of delivery based on need, not
This article can be read alongside my earlier pieces on NHS privateers here and here