Despite the Fullsome Praise, BoJob Still Wants to Privatise the NHS

Yesterday the news reported that Boris had finally been discharged from hospital. He will not be starting work immediately, but has gone to Checkers to recuperate after his battle with Coronavirus. But before he did so, he gave fulsome to praise the hospital staff, including two nurses, who cared for him. The NHS, he made clear, had saved his life, and we would beat the Coronavirus because it was the beating heart of Britain.

I’m very glad Johnson has recovered. I don’t wish, or anyone else’s death, and I’m very glad that he is showing his sincere, genuine gratitude to the nursing staff and the great institution that has saved his life. He’s not the only Tory politico to owe his life to the NHS. Back in the 1980s the Fabian Society published a pamphlet arguing very forcefully against privatisation of the NHS, and made very telling comparisons about the US system, which is funded by individual insurance. The pamphlet quoted a Tory politician, who stated that the NHS had very definitely saved his life when he had suffered heart problems, and that there is no way he could have afforded such treatment in America.

But you’ll forgive me if I say that I found such praise coming from Boris a tad hypocritical and hollow. Right-wing governments since Thatcher – and that includes Tony Blair’s – have been doing their level best to privatise the NHS piecemeal by stealth. And the series of Tory governmental trainwrecks since Labour lost the 2010 election are no different. Cameron went on with the privatisation, passing Andrew Lansley’s wretched Health and Social Care Bill, which absolves the Health Secretary from his or her historic role of having to make sure that everyone has health care free at the point of use. NHS trusts and doctor’s surgeries, organised in Community Care Groups, are enabled and required to consider commissioning services from private healthcare companies. More and more contracts – it is now more than half – have been awarded to private healthcare companies. Despite the lies and smooth assurances to the opposite, this privatisation is for the private sector’s benefit, not ours. On its own, private healthcare can’t compete with that provided by the state. Private hospitals are smaller, and don’t offer the range of services the NHS provides. Private health insurance works well for the affluent, young and largely well, who don’t require long term or complicated treatment. It does not work for the old, the poor, the disabled or the long term sick. Which is why Lyndon Johnson had to introduce Medicare and Medicaid for those groups in the US. Despite this, 40,000 people still die through lack of affordable healthcare in the US, and the top cause of bankruptcies over there is medical costs.

But over here the Tory drive for privatisation continues. I noticed a Torygraph headline reproduced on one the blogs, which very graphically showed this. This proclaimed that it was due to the NHS’ cumbrous bureaucracy that PPE equipment weren’t getting to NHS staff. The Tories have been very keen to tell everyone that introducing the private sector is going to cut bureaucracy. And this is another example of the truth being the direct opposite of anything Johnson, Cummings and any other Tory will tell you. The Tories’ privatisation has actually increased the bureaucracy through setting up organs within the NHS to ensure competition and value for money. Also private healthcare firms have larger management bureaucracies that the NHS. In extreme cases, these can account for 40 per cent of the companies operating costs. But there were over 100 MPs in Cameron’s government, who had connections to private healthcare firms. And so, despite rising costs and inefficiencies, it’s immensely profitable to them and the heads of those companies.

Treatment by the NHS is supposed to be free at the point of use, but the Tories have been introducing charges, or expanding the range of services for which charges may be made. One of those supporting this move is Jacob Rees-Mogg.

But despite their determination to sell it off, the Tories give their unstinting praise to it. One recent Tory health secretary even declared that they ‘treasured it’. This was after the fact it was revealed that he, or one of the other Tory MPs, had written a book advocating the incorporation of private healthcare into the NHS to such an extent that the NHS would cease to exist. Which is privatisation.

With this in mind, I see absolutely no reason to take Johnson’s praise at anything like face value. No, I don’t deny he’s grateful – now. But this gratitude will wear off a soon as he steps back through the doors of No.10 and starts listening once again to his Tory friends and fellows, and although the advisers that have trooped into government from private industry.

Then, whatever Johnson said yesterday, he’ll go back to privatising the NHS.

So no one else will be able to get treatment for a disease like Coronavirus without paying for it. And heaven help the poor if they can’t.

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11 Responses to “Despite the Fullsome Praise, BoJob Still Wants to Privatise the NHS”

  1. trev Says:

    “the Fabian Society published a pamphlet arguing very forcefully against the NHS…”

    Really? Do you mean against the Privatization of the NHS?

  2. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.

  3. Florence Says:

    The NHS must indeed be wonderful. as usually anyone coming out from intensive care are usually are still rather unwell, needing a wheel chair, for up to 2 weeks or more. The covid19 cough can carry on for 6 weeks, according to my GP. Even after symptoms disappear covid19 patients are shedding virus for weeks. I personally know that if it has been “touch and go” it does really (really) wipe you out for months after.
    But “Boris” left with a spring in his step and a clear voice (no cough), a negative test and a mansion with his latest bint in residence awaiting.
    NHS – working miracles.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Yes, there have been many miraculous cures of the Tory stricken. Like Matt Hancock up and about after only six days, when the government itself tells you that you should stay isolated for seven, and the WHO for 14. Truly, Boris and his cabinet must have incredible constitutions.

  4. Blissex Says:

    «comparisons about the US system, which is funded by individual insurance. The pamphlet quoted a Tory politician, who stated that the NHS had very definitely saved his life when he had suffered heart problems, and that there is no way he could have afforded such treatment in America.»

    I think that there is a bit of confusion here between two of my usual quotes, one from Ken Clarke, and one from Norman Tebbit:

    K Clarke, “Kenneth Clarke: I had a lot of views, but they didn’t coincide with No 10’s”, 2014-07-19, “The Observer”

    «His first challenge at health was heading off Thatcher, who “wanted to go to the American system”, he reveals. “I had ferocious rows with her about it. She wanted compulsory insurance, with the state paying the premiums for the less well-off. I thought that was a disaster. The American system is hopeless … dreadful.”
    He prevailed on her to take a different route by introducing more competition into the NHS. It became known – in a phrase he didn’t like – as “the internal market”. Ever since then, successive governments have pushed in broadly the same direction.

    Norman Tebbit “The NHS can be an elite force, as I know. When it goes wrong, blame the generals, not the troops” 2013-12-20, The Daily Telegraph.

    «I had not intended to bore readers of this blog with an account of my health problems, but on reading the comments on Janet Daley’s account of her experience of helping a friend navigate the NHS emergency care system I was stuck by the intemperance and prejudice in all too many of them.
    I should start by saying that, in helping my wife through terrible times since we were all but murdered by IRA/Sinn Fein in 1984, I have had plenty of time to form a judgment on the NHS. It is not all one way, but with the exception of the arrangements for long-term care of the frail and the elderly, and the mental health support services for older people, I have found it to have been pretty good.
    We are fortunate to have lived for the past four years in the catchment area of a hospital which I think works pretty well (despite an unfortunate recent incident which was reported in rather unfortunate style by one newspaper). During those years my wife underwent surgery, without which she would by now probably be dead, and my sight was saved too.
    Last week provided another test for the system. In the small hours of Friday morning I was awakened by severe pains in my chest. I slipped out of bed and went to call my wife’s carer for help. She dialled 999 and very quickly an ambulance arrive at the front door, I was carried out and whisked off to A&E. It was mercifully quiet and I was rapidly admitted to the cardiac unit which had already been advised that I had a heart rate of up to 200. Well-qualified staff were on duty, and dealt with what was a most unwelcome and extreme return of a problem for which I had been treated in London over a decade earlier. I was released to outpatient care a few days later, but under a rather strict regime for some time ahead. The staff were all efficient, good-natured and kind and the food, while typically hospital in style, was really not that bad.»

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for both of these, Blissex. I’d heard that Tebbit had actually savaged Cameron over his privatisation of the NHS. I actually wasn’t thinking about him, though, with this passage. It comes from a piece in the Fabian pamphlet, which quotes someone I hadn’t heard of. But thanks for these anyway.

  5. Blissex Says:

    Another related quote which shows that even deranged ideologues sometimes have to perceive reality:

    Norman Tebbit, “Norman Tebbit savages David Cameron’s NHS plans”, 2012-01-12, “Daily Mirror”

    «his experience as chairman of a charitable fund which helped the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust. He told how a local private hospital was contracted by the NHS to help shorten waiting lists. “But the damage it did to the finances of Nuffield and its ability to carry out training…was quite considerable,” he said. “The private sector hospital had neither any obligation, nor wish, to take on the more difficult and complex surgery. It had no obligation to teach the next generation of surgeons the skills they would need to deal with such work. That was all left to be done by the NHS hospital. But the NHS hospital lost income from that bread-and-butter work. It no longer had enough of the routine work for young surgeons to gain the experience needed to take on difficult and complex work and it ran into real financial difficulties.”»

  6. trev Says:

    Petition to protect our NHS from trade deals:

    http://bit.ly/3dczIoX

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