Just before I start my presentation of Youssef's account, I'll tell you about some of the highlights of the national NHS Day of Action, called by Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, last Saturday - November 26- down here in the SW tip of Cornwall. Three towns in the St Ives constituency had street stalls - Helston, Penzance, and St Ives - with between 6-10 Party activists in
each town collecting signatures to a petition and letter protesting about national policy and local cuts. Around 1000 signatures collected in an hour and a half. Overwhelming support. Virtually no hostility anywhere. And then - in Penzance - the gathering of Momentum members (those on the Left who are determined to see Jeremy Corbyn remain as leader of the Labour Party and believe in his values and share his vision of 21st century socialism as a fairer and more decent way for our society).
|Momentum gathering - Saturday 26 November 2016|
We assembled and we marched through the town to the West Cornwall hospital and back. There was much support. Copies of the Momentum leaflet (see above) that I had put together were distributed.
|Momentum March - Penzance - Saturday 26 November 2016|
And now Youssef's revelations. Let's set out on a journey to discover how we have been the victims of a daylight robbery. How we are losing our NHS through a deliberate Tory policy of cunning and concealment of motive.
What are these 10 Easy Steps? Here are the first five (the final five will appear in the next blog):
- 1) CREATE AN INTERNAL MARKET
The internal market was introduced in the 1980s on the premise that the NHS is a monolithic bureaucracy, encased in red tape and stifled by centralisation. Public sector = bad and inefficient; private sector = good and innovative. In fact, these market reforms led to a substantial rise in NHS costs largely due to increased numbers of administrative and managerial staff.
2) INTRODUCE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
New Labour's NHS Plan (2000) and NHS Improvement Plan (2004) were based on the false premise that the private sector would introduce choice and competition as well as cutting costs. PFIs (Private Finance Initiatives) were a Tory idea used by New Labour to build and run infrastructure projects such as hospitals. Now, with crippling interest repayments spread over decades, the bill for hospitals is projected to rise above £79 billion - seven-times the original capital cost of building the hospitals in the first place. Whose interests are being served here - investors or the people and their health?
- 3) FACILITATE THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER
Primary care - (GP and Community Services) - was now organised into Trusts that commissioned care from companies such as United Health, Atos, and Virgin that employed salaried doctors, care workers, and others. Secondary care - (Hospitals) - was reorganised into Foundation Trusts, thereby converting hospitals into semi-independent businesses with financial and other freedoms. Youssef worked at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, a foundation trust, as a junior doctor without any idea what this meant. In fact, foundation trusts are allowed to 'go bust' as they are no longer eligible to be bailed out by the Department of Health (DoH). Hospitals have to have balanced their books to attain foundation trust status. This has often meant cutting front-line staff. And this was one of the main factors behind the Mid Staffs scandal, involving the death of hundreds of patients. Hospital bosses did not anticipate the current climate of austerity cuts nor the mounting PFI interest debts. More than a third of NHS trusts in acute deficit are hospitals built under PFI.
- 4) INSTALL A REVOLVING DOOR
How did all this happen? The short answer is the revolving door - two former secretaries of state for health (Milburn and Hewitt) and one minister for health (Lord Warner) headed for the lucrative world of employment in the private health sector after their public duties were over. In 2009, spending on management consultants in the NHS stood at around £300 million a year. By the end of 2014, under the Tory-led coalition, it had doubled to £640 million. It is this management consultancy culture that has presided over PFIs. Over 200 MPs and Lords have recent past or present financial interests in companies involved in private health care. The notion of a boundary between the public and private sectors, which should be policed in the public interest, has long been expunged.
- 5) ORGANISE A GREAT BIG SELL OFF
Who are the winners in this awful Great Big British sell-off? Serco for one - the biggest company you've never heard of - and without whom as the Daily Telegraph reported, Britain would struggle to go to war (it runs our ballistic missile early warning system) ; Netcare, one of the leading lights in private hospital chains - and also involved in illegal kidney transplants; United Health Group - who have been repeatedly forced to pay massive fines in the States for multiple instances of fraud; and McKinsey - the largest consultancy firm in the world - described in the Mail on Sunday as the firm that hijacked the NHS in an expose revealing how it had lavished NHS regulators, drawn up proposals for the Health and Social Care Act (2012) and used access to share information with other clients. In a climate of economic stagnation since the financial crash of 2008, corporations are turning to the rich pickings of European public services in order to continue generating massive profits. The NHS alone yields over a staggering £100 billion.
TO BE CONTINUED