The ‘friendly neighbourhood Tory’ masks always come off in the end. Under that velvet glove of ‘fairness’ is an iron fist of ideology:
A senior adviser to David Cameron says the NHS could be improved by charging patients and will be transformed into a “state insurance provider, not a state deliverer” of care.
Mark Britnell, who was appointed to a “kitchen cabinet” advising the prime minister on reforming the NHS, told a conference of executives from the private sector that future reforms would show “no mercy” to the NHS and offer a “big opportunity” to the for-profit sector.
Our friends across the pond spent generations desperately trying to move away from the kind of system Britnell wants, and have since taken a big step in the direction of achieving that goal with the passage of the Affordable Care Act last year. One state in America, Vermont, is actually about to introduce single-payer healthcare of the kind we in Britain enjoy, and unfortunately take for granted. The American people didn’t like their for-profit system, where health care was based on ability to be insured and ability to pay. Yet senior Tories would take reverse over 60 years of progress and drag Britain’s healthcare system in the opposite direction to which every other Western country is going. Britnell suggesting “no mercy” should be given to the NHS is the conservative id laid bare – anything they don’t like must be utterly destroyed.
Note that Britnell is talking about ‘future reforms‘. This is irrefutable proof that despite Cameron’s insistence that he loves the NHS and his promises to preserve it, these odious ‘reforms’ are intended to be a stepping stone to eventual privatisation of the NHS. And as for said current ‘reforms’, no one in the Government has managed to satisfactorily explain why handing GPs the responsibility of running and allocating funding for health services would improve the current system. Even my own parents, who are dyed-in-the-wool Tories, don’t understand it and think it’s a stupid idea. Doctors are not substitutes for bureaucrats, and I have no doubt that giving them these additional powers would adversely affect the job they were trained and are meant to do – namely treat their patients. Indeed, one of the actual problems the NHS has is an excess of bureaucracy, and this plan would actually exacerbate it by creating a whole new pile of red tape.
As touched on above, the NHS is not perfect. Indeed, the length of waiting times have been and remain a serious problem, many hospitals are not up to the standards of efficiency, care and hygiene that they should be, and health costs are only going to increase with an aging population. So let NHS reforms be targeted at fixing those real, tangible problems, and not at transforming the institution because it doesn’t mesh with conservative ideology. Our system treats healthcare as a right, which is as it should be. Healthcare should be first and foremost universally available and free so that people do not have to bear what would be disastrous financial burdens for something they cannot help – getting sick or being injured. And naturally, should people desire an alternative, the option should be there – as it is now with private health insurance providers such as BUPA. Because health care is a matter of life and death to people, it should not be turned into a money-making machine; the idea that companies should be allowed to make money on the backs of the sick and injured is morally repugnant.
I could write an entirely separate blog post on the flaws of privatisation, but suffice to say anyone who has used private services that were once public will tell you it has not improved services, but merely made them more expensive. It has been proven over and over again to be a failed policy, and so it would be the definition of insanity to extend it to our healthcare system. We love our NHS the way it is, and if the Tories succeeded in turning into a soulless machine where human beings come a poor second to the pursuit of profit, they would be doomed to a much longer spell in the wilderness than the one following Tony Blair’s victory in 1997.