Here is how the first of those two posts began:
"Tuesday, 29 November 2016
HOW OUR NHS IS BEING STOLEN FROM US
|The professionals who are the backbone of our NHS|
- Since 2017 Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) have been taking over the purchasing as well as the provision of NHS services, deciding who gets which services, which are free and which - as with the dentist and prescriptions - we have to pay for. ICSs are partnerships between hospitals, clinicians and private sector providers designed - and incentivised - to limit and reduce public healthcare costs, and in particular to lessen the demand on hospitals. Their inspiration comes from US health insurance provision.
- Two years before Thatcher came to power in 1979, Nicholas Ridley - a leading Tory neoliberal - wrote that 'denationalisation should not be attempted by frontal attack but by …. stealth. We should first pass legislation to destroy the public sector monopolies. We might also need to take power to sell assets. Secondly, we should fragment the industries as far as possible and set up the units as separate profit centres.' The Tories have had a strategy in place for privatisation for over 40 years.
- In 1986 hospital cleaning services were privatised.
- In 1988 Oliver Letwin and John Redwood - yes, they are still active Tory MPs - published 'Britain's Biggest Enterprise: Ideas for Radical Reform of the NHS'.
|The NHS at the beginning - Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health and founder of this national service, with a patient and nursing staff|
|The NHS worked well - free from the profit motive. Why change? (A clue: greed)|
- In 1990 Ken Clarke created the internal market within the NHS through the NHS and Community Care Act - the NHS was split between 'service purchasers' and 'service providers'. Hospitals and GPs would compete for custom and the successful parties would be rewarded with greater funding.
- New Labour too was attracted by these American-inspired ideas. Tony Blair's 1997 National Health Service Act further moved NHS hospitals into being trusts that could operate as commercial businesses. The patient became a 'consumer' and the goal was called 'patient-choice'. Many trusts formed Private Finance Initiative partnerships to build and maintain hospitals. These deals were originally worth £11.4 billion; now they have lumbered the NHS with more than £80 billion of debt.
Still the NHS continues to function, despite the cuts and reorganisations. How? (Some clues: love for the job, goodwill and personal sacrifice)
- Under the Tory Lib-Dem Coalition government (2010-15) the implementation of the American model accelerated. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act enabled hospital trusts to raise 49% of their budgets from private patients and other sources.
- This Act gave more than 60% of the NHS budget to local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), comprised of GPS and other clinicians, to be used to commission services from the private sector as well as the NHS. Given their lack of business expertise, CCGs were provided with Commissioning Support units run by private companies including KPMG and Price Waterhouse Cooper. In practice, these private companies now run the franchising of NHS services - and make a profit in doing so.
Care and love - not profit. Why not?
- This is what neoliberalism is all about - the maximising of the number of opportunities to provide a paid-for 'service'; the more such transactions there are, the more the cash flows and the greater the profits to be made in that sector of the economy. But such wealth tends to stay within the hands of those who are rich enough to participate in the first place; there is little 'trickle-down'; and we are talking here about the national health service - our health should not be the source of other people's profit in a country that created the NHS in 1948.
- The 2012 Act also abolished the health minister's responsibility for national healthcare provision. [Yes - you read it right.] Such responsibility now lay with NHS England under its new director, Simon Stevens. He had been a health advisor to New Labour and before that the CEO of United Health, leading the corporate opposition to the introduction of Obama-care in the USA.
We were out on the local campaign trail here in St Ives, Cornwall in February 2017
- In 2015, NHS England under Stevens' leadership launched their five-year plan which saw the establishment of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPS) which were supposed to create savings of almost £5 billion a year by 2020. How? By reducing access to care.
- The STPs divided England into 44 areas all of which were put under pressure to amalgamate hospitals and shrink specialist units. Hospital beds have been cut; the UK's bed-to-patient ration is now one of the lowest in any developed country. Accident and emergency departments, which not only require expensive equipment and high numbers of staff but also take the brunt of the consequences of Austerity and social care failings, are being cut from 144 to about fifty. GP care is increasingly provided by 'physician associates', nurse practitioners and pharmacists. Patients are encouraged to go online and use profit-making and privately-owned consultancies. US tech and medical giants are queuing up for entry into the NHS market, not least after any post-Brexit, Tory UK-US trade deal.
- Enforced centralisation has resulted in 'hub' hospitals and fewer, larger GP practices: at least a thousand have closed since 2014 and the number with more than twenty thousand patients has tripled.
- The rationing of non-urgent operations such as hip replacements encourages patients to seek private treatment - if they can afford to (and even if they cannot).
July 2018 - Stephen Vranch presents our birthday card to a member of the NHS team at Treliske Hospital, Truro
- Since 2012, the Stevens era has seen mega-large private companies becoming more and more involved in the workings of the NHS. It seems indisputable that private companies, with their increased overheads, higher rates of borrowing and shareholder dividends, are inherently more costly to the public than state-funded services. It seems also the case that the management and administration involved in franchising and marketing NHS services has also become more and more costly. Privatisation is probably adding at least £9 billion a year to the NHS budget.
- Stevens recently called for the repeal of Section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. This looked as if it was a move away from privatisation but the small print tells a different story - this is another step in the deregulation of the NHS market.
- NHS property and land assets worth £10 billion are being sold to private developers.
- The fragmentation of a once fully integrated service into competing and commercially-driven units is well advanced. This transformation has been accomplished without proper public scrutiny, knowledge, consent or appropriate Parliamentary legislation. The media has failed to recognise the overall shape of the project.
…. and so this protest was organised (I'm on the far left of the picture.)
- The contacting of ICSs will be concluded within 18 months - if the Labour Party is not returned as the party of Government on December 12, next month. A Jeremy Corbyn-led socialist government will start reclaiming the NHS for the people.
High noon - Boris Johnson is driven away - (a prophetic image!)