Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
19 March 2010
A flagship bill to privatise Britain’s publicly funded national health service (NHS) is being railroaded through its final stages in the UK Parliament this week. The service, which was set up in 1948, provides free health care to all British citizens.
The bill, backed by the governing coalition of Conservatives and Liberals, will involve the biggest root-and-branch reorganization in the history of the health service.
The aim is to carve up the current unified health care provision so as to create lucrative contracts for private sector health businesses, often part of giant overseas multinational corporations, which support the political parties in power.
It is being opposed tooth-and-nail by virtually the entire UK medical profession. A group of 240 health care professionals has taken the unprecedented step of declaring that they will stand as candidates against the government in the next parliamentary elections.
The opposition Labour Party – which had no problem with flogging off public services to the private sector when it was itself in government from 1997 to 2010 – is also fighting the reorganisation, albeit simply in order to curry party political advantage with the voters rather than out of any principled opposition.
Accordingly, interviewed by the UK Guardian newspaper today 19 March 2012, Lady Thornton, Labour health spokeswoman in the House of Lords, went so far as to accuse the government of lying about the content of the bill.
“This is an ideologically driven bill,” she said. “They have sold us a pup.” The result would be “a terrible bureaucratic, expensive and fragmented NHS”.
In reply, the government’s Department of Health is quoted as saying: “The health and social care bill will hand power to general practitioners [doctors], put patients at the heart of the NHS and reduce needless bureaucracy….we are safeguarding the NHS for future generations.”
Flashback: UK readers with average memories may recall a remark made not so long ago on 2 November 2009 by Conservative opposition leader David “Pinocchio” Cameron (who has been Prime Minister since May 2010). Addressing the Royal College of Pathologists, he said: “With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down restructures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS.”
As Lord Gnome of the UK satirical magazine Private Eye would have said: “Some mishtake, surely?”
In fact, Mr Cameron’s pledge to the Royal College of Pathologists was simply a routine profession of the “hypocritic oath” rigidly adhered to by all members of the political confraternity to which he belongs. Pathologists listening to Mr Cameron would have understood the reference perfectly as all members of the medical profession are bound by a similarly-worded oath.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Das Vierte Reich/The Fourth Reich (6 Feb 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
5. What would Gandhi have said? (30 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.