Posts Tagged ‘Health and Social Care Act’

Cameron Blames Lansley and Lib Dems for His Act Promoting Privatisation of NHS

October 3, 2019

This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye also has a few choice things to say about David Cameron’s new book, For the Record. This seems to be largely his attempt to justify his wretched tenure of 10 Downing Street and the havoc he caused. The book’s reviewed, and comprehensively and thoroughly trashed, in their ‘Literary Review’ column on page 34 in a piece titled ‘Shed tears’. It’s a long review, which can be summed up by saying that Cameron keeps trying to claim that his government left Britain stronger, more stable, and more prosperous. To which the Eye’s answer – and just about everyone else’s – is Brexit, and a few telling details refuting the Old Eton’s bogus claims.

The magazine’s ‘Medicine Balls’ column also attacks some of Cameron’s claims. It begins by refuting BoJob’s claim that he’ll build 40 new hospitals, before going on to tackle Cameron’s little stories. Including the former PM’s claim that he wasn’t really responsible for the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. This is a nasty little piece of legislation which, behind its convoluted verbiage and tortuous clauses, exempts the Health Secretary from having to provide Brits with universal healthcare which is free at the point of service. It’s a piece preparing for the wholesale privatisation of the NHS, and is duly attacked as such in the book NHS – SOS. As Prime Minister, Cameron is responsible for the Act. Except he claims it’s all the fault of his Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, and the Lib Dems. The Eye writes

Then there is the small matter of repairing the disastrous Health and Social Care Act, a Trojan horse for outsourcing NHS services to the private sector via an astonishingly wasteful process of repetitive, competitive tendering. David Cameron, in his autobiography, places the blame for the act on his health secretary Andrew Lansley, the Lib Dem coalition partners and the British Medical Association (BMA): “Andrew Lansley … was too submerged in the detail. The jargon he’d use was baffling. I remember sitting in cabinet when he shared his reform white paper. it was like an artist unveiling a piece he’d spent years on, and everyone wondering what on earth it was.” So why did he allow such chaos to progress?

It was the Lib Dems fault, claims Cameron, that he was forced to abandon his pre-election pledge of “no top-down” reorganisation” of the NHS, because they insisted that primary care trusts should be abolished rather than left “wither on the vine”. Then there is the BMA, which Cameron declares “will oppose anything, whether it is a good idea or not.”

(Eye page 17).

From this it’s clear that there was little ideological difference between Cameron and the Lib Dems. Both wanted the primary care trusts to go. It was simply a difference of the means.Cameron wanted them to decay quietly, the Lib Dems wanted abolition.

The column also attacks Comedy Dave’s pledge to support the NHS:

But he also promised to “always support the NHS with the funding it needs”, which he manifestly failed to do. And the promises in his 2015 manifesto – “to make the NHS the safest and most compassionate health service in the world” – were always phoney given the lack of resource, capacity and staff.

The article does admit that Cameron did some things right, such as highlighting the dangers of anti-microbial resistance, but attacks his role in provoking the junior doctor’s strike by demanding they work weekends, based on flawed, decades-old statistics.

From this it’s very clear that, whatever he says about Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act, Cameron was in favour of the privatisation of the NHS. No surprise there, then. He’s a Thatcherite, and Maggie Thatcher wanted to privatise the NHS. She couldn’t, because her Personal Private Secretary, Patrick Jenkin, found out how awful the American, insurance-based system was, and there was a massive cabinet rebellion. But she was determined to open it up to private industry. This was taken over by Peter Lilley and John Major, who introduce the Private Finance Initiative, and then by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who expanded it in their turn. It was then taken up, once again, by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Tweezer. And I’ve no doubt Johnson also wants to privatise it, after he gets through ruining the country with his assaults on the sovereignty of parliament and a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

And the Lib Dems share the Tories’ determination to destroy the NHS. At the last election, Nick Clegg stated that he wanted to open the NHS up to private industry, as those countries, whose healthcare had a mixture of state and private provision had ‘better outcomes’. It’s a flat-out lie, or it was until he and the Tories started their disastrous campaign of trashing the NHS. And Swinson shares his goal of privatising it. She consistently voted for the government’s bills, and supported them far more than some front bench Conservatives.

Despite this, she claims that she and her party are ‘progressive’, solely because it ostensibly supports ‘Remain’. But this is sheer opportunism. When it came to the referendum, she issued a single, lukewarm tweet and was nowhere to be seen, while the Labour leader she reviles was travelling up and down the country. As for her party, the proportion of Lib Dems who support ‘Remain’ is only two per cent higher than that of the Labour party. Her whole pro-Remain stance is a lie, as is just about everything she says.

Don’t be fooled. Both the Tories and Lib Dems want to privatise the NHS. The only person who doesn’t, and will block it, is Jeremy Corbyn.

 

Vox Political: Jeremy Corbyn Pledges to Re-Nationalise the NHS and Buy Out PFI Schemes

August 25, 2016

On Tuesday, Mike put up a piece reporting that yesterday Jeremy Corbyn and his close ally, Diane Abbott, were due to announce their policies towards the NHS if Corbyn got elected. He would not only reverse the Tory cuts, but would renationalise the NHS to make it fully publicly funded, and fully publicly provided. They would also not only not sign any more PFI deals, but would establish a public fund to buy struggling hospitals out of their PFI deals. And he was going to support fully a private members bill by the MP, Margaret Greenwood, strengthening the responsibilities of the Health Secretary, ending the NHS internal market and restoring nurses bursaries.

Mike quotes him as saying:

“Health, health financing and health inequality is a matter of paramount national importance. The Labour government I lead will ensure that money goes to patients not contractors, and that our NHS is given the resources to provide a top quality service as part of a program to rebuild and transform Britain so that no-one and no community is left behind.”

If you only need one reason to vote for Corbyn, this is it. Over three decades of Thatcherite administrations have gradually privatised the NHS, beginning with Thatcher’s own administration in 1979. John Major introduced the PFI deals, under which hospitals have been built in partnership with private industry, which then runs them on the behalf of the NHS, on the recommendation of Peter ‘I’ve got a little list’ Lilley, who wanted to open up the Health Service to private investment. The Tories also introduced the internal market, which actually vastly increased the Health Service’s bureaucracy and inefficiency. New Labour then pushed the process forwards by introducing privately funded and operated clinics, and splitting the NHS into ‘Care Commissioning Groups’, which could raise money privately if they so wished. Under New Labour and the Tories, private contractors were introduced to perform NHS medical services. Finally, Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act of 2012 removed the statutory responsibility of the Health Secretary to provide state medical care.

This is what the supporters of the NHS, such as Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis, the authors of NHS: SOS, have been demanding. These reforms have left the NHS struggling under a mountain of debt. This means that any new hospitals that are built under the PFI scheme are smaller and more expensive than those constructed under conventional public funding. And the debt means that the Tories have an excuse for closing further NHS hospitals, before finally rolling out their pretext for the complete privatisation of the NHS.

Whatever else Corbyn does, if he restores the NHS to the principles under which it was founded, as a publicly funded, publicly operated service offering universal treatment free at the point of use, this alone will justify his election to office.

Of course, it’s going to be a threat to big business, which wants a slice of the lucrative business opportunities now monopolised by the state, albeit in an increasingly diminishing field. So expect to hear more demonization of him and his supporters by the media and the Blairites in the coming weeks.

Basu and Stuckler on the Privatisation of the NHS

July 22, 2016

Body Economic Pic

Earlier this week I put up a piece about The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills, by the medical researchers David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu (New York: Basic Books 2013). The book shows, using examples of recessions from the Great Depression of the 20s and 30s, to contemporary Britain and Greece, and the massive privatisation of the Russian economy after the Fall of Communism, how recessions and the austerity programmes that Conservatives use to try and correct them, also cause health crises. Conversely, welfare states that support people, not only give their peoples good health, but also create prosperity.

The two authors are also very much aware that the British National Health Service is being privatised, and are very critical of this. They write

Today the NHS’s founding principles are being forgotten, as the conservative Tory government seeks to make the NHS more like the American profit-driven, market-based system. When the Tory government came to power, they revisited a pamphlet developed under the previous Tory government of John Major that called the NHS a “bureaucratic monster that cannot be tamed” and in need of “radical reform”. In 2004, Oliver Letwin, the pamphlet’s lead author, said the “NHS will not exist” within five years of a Tory election victory. Indeed, after the Tories came to power they proposed the Health and Social Care Act, which embodied the free-market principles of the radical pamphlet.

It was difficult for us to understand this decision. Overall in 2010, before the Tory government began dismantling the NHS, the UK spent less of its GDP on health (8 percent) than Germany (10.5 percent), France (11.2 percent) or the United States (19 percent). Ultimately, the Tories’ position was not based on evidence but ideology-the idea that markets, competition, and profits would always be better than government intervention.

A highly divisive public debate over the Health and Social Care Act ensued. Over staunch opposition from the Royal College of Nursing and almost all of the medical Royal Colleges (the UK equivalents of the American Medical Association), Parliament approved the Act in 2012. Thus began what many regard as a major move towards privatization of the NHS. Repeatedly, David Cameron promised the British public that the Act was not “privatising the NHS” and that he would “cut the deficit not the NHS.” The Liberal-Democratic leader Nick Clegg said, “There will be no privatisation.”

The Department of Health website even stated that “Health Ministers have said they will never privatise the NHS.” But the data tell a different story: increasingly, the government is transferring large swaths of healthcare provision to private contractors.

Private profiteers are replacing dedicated doctors. In October 2012, the government awarded 400 lucrative contracts for NHS services, worth a quarter billion pounds, in what was called “the biggest act of privatisation ever in the NHS.” Virgin, for example, won lucrative contracts to deliver reproductive care (no pun intended). But the result was not the efficiency of private enterprise, but what had already been seen in the US market model-profits at the expense of patients. One journalist found this to be the case at health clinics in Teesside, northeast England. After Virgin won contracts to take over the services, the clinic repeatedly missed targets for screening people for chlamydia. It was a simple task that the NHS fulfilled easily. The journalist found a memo that revealed “staff were asked to take home testing kits to use on friends and family to help make the numbers up.” In Oxford, patients complained about increasing wait times to see their doctors after Virgin took over a local practice. Virgin responded that the practice had been underperforming when it was taken over, and that “there are still improvements to be made but we’re pleased that progress so far was recognised and applauded by councillors.” And so began what continues to be a highly sophisticate public relations campaign.

The UK’s next step toward US-style market-based medicine is moving forward at the time of this writing. It encourages patients to spend out of their pockets for healthcare rather than use the government-funded NHS. The Tory government is extending pilot projects to offer those with chronic illnesses “personal budgets” so that they themselves can make choices about how to manage their care, with few safeguards against profit-seeking swindlers or predatory insurance companies despite a government evaluation that highlighted many problems with this approach.

Early evidence suggests the Health and Social Care Act may in fact be hazardous to the health of the citizens and residents of the United Kingdom. Just before the Coalition government came into power, the NHS had the highest patient approval ratings in its history, over 70 percent. Within two years, approval fell to 58 percent, the largest decline in three decades. There are already warning signs that the healthcare situation in Britain may come to resemble that in the US before Obama. Patients are being turned away from privately managed clinics, some of which simply close their doors after meeting a daily quota to fulfill their contractual obligations. And in the first year of reform, emergency room visits jumped to the highest in the decade- perhaps because more people are neglecting preventive care, like Diane. As the editor of the Lancet warned, “people will die.”

Whether the British people will fully accept this radical privatisation of their healthcare system remains unclear. But once market incentives take hold of a public system, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to reverse course. In the UK, the recession-fueled combination of austerity-and-privatisation seems to be creeping into every dimension of the social protection system. But evidence of its harms should give us all pause. (pp. 105-7).

Part of the way the government is selling its privatisation of the NHS to the public is through artificial funding crises, in which hospitals develop massive budget deficits. They are then amalgamated with another hospital under a PFI scheme, or given over to a private healthcare company to manage. Points West, the local BBC news programme for the Bristol region, last night revealed that Southmead hospital was also in the red to the tune of £48 million. And I suspect a similar fate is being lined up for it here.

This privatisation must be stopped, and those who support it – the Conservatives, and the Blairites in New Labour, must be thrown out of office immediately. Only Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will reverse the NHS privatisation. It is up to us to support him, regardless of the smears from the media and the Right.

Vox Political on Gloria de Piero’s Article in the Scum

July 4, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also put up an article critiquing an article today in the Scum by yet another Blairite, Gloria de Piero. De Piero has decided to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, to encourage good supporters of Tony Blair to join the Labour party and vote to get Jeremy Corbyn out of office as the party’s leader.

Mike quotes her as saying

By signing up you can help choose a leader who recognises that the Labour Party was founded to be a Party of Government and implement policies to improve the lives of working people. A party of protest doesn’t help a single person.

The country needs a Labour Party that can deal with the reality of our exit from the EU and ensure Labour values are at the heart of talks about our departure.

He points out that despite her talk of ‘Labour values’, she doesn’t define what they are. See his post: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/03/labour-mutineer-reduced-to-appearance-in-the-sun-in-bid-to-flood-labour-with-right-wing-entryists/

And I honestly don’t think she reasonably can. Labour used to stand for state intervention, the public ownership of the means of production, and the welfare state. Until Tony Blair turned up, threw out Clause 4, which commits the party to public ownership, and threatened to cut ties with the trade unions and then set about privatising anything which wasn’t nailed down.

Which includes the NHS.

He furthermore introduced the odious Work Capability Test, with the support of American health insurance fraudsters, Unum. As a result, millions of people have been the victims of benefit sanctions. About 590 people have died in misery and starvation because of this, and 290,000 people with mental health problems, have seen the conditions get worse. In some case, very seriously worse.

All this, of course, was to demonstrate to the ruling class that Labour could manage the economy as effectively as the Tories, and appeal to those swing voters in marginal constituencies, who could vote for the Tories. In doing so, Blair, Broon and the others showed their complete contempt for the party they led, and the working people of this great nation.

And instrumental in getting support for Bliar was the Dirty Digger and his media empire. Former cabinet ministers have stated that Murdoch was always an invisible presence at cabinet meetings, with the Dear Leader fretting over how a policy would go with Murdoch.

Mike in his article above responds to a critic, who claims he was making a ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy when attacking the Scum’s anti-Labour record. Mike reminds us all that at certain periods, a majority of the paper’s readers were probably Labour supporters, determined to laugh and get angry at it. That certainly did happen. A friend once told me he knew somebody, who did read the Scum in order to get angry. No, I don’t understand the psychology either. But clearly it existed.

Unfortunately, there were also people who really did think it was a Socialist paper. It had, after all, originally been the Daily Herald, a Labour newspaper, and for a brief period after the Chunder from Down Under had bought it, it continued with a pro-Labour bias, before it became the bug-eyed, rabidly Thatcherite rag it is today.

After supporting the Tories, Murdoch in the mid-90s switched from them, and the-then Tory prime minister, John Major, and began plugging Blair. About that time there were interviews with Australia’s Goebbels, in which he told various TV journos that he had started out as a Socialist, and made it sound like he had gone back to his roots.

He hadn’t. And had no intention to. And I have to say, I’m doubtful he was ever a Socialist in the first place. Biographies of Murdoch have made it plain that the man responsible for bring down cultural standards across at least four continents has always remained consistent in his political beliefs. They are pro-privatisation, anti-trade union, and include the privatisation of the NHS.

These are apparently the same ‘Labour values’ Gloria de Piero stands for. She obviously approves of seeing further people thrown off benefit, and denied state medical aid for the corporate profit of BUPA, Circle Health, Virgin Healthcare and co.

As for her statement Labour needs to be a party of government not a party of protest, it’s a questionable statement and the unspoken assumptions underneath it are toxic. She assumes that Labour can only become a party of government by accepting the neoliberal, Thatcherite economic system. But this is nonsense. Labour lost 4 million votes when it was in power, because to too many people it had become indistinguishable from the Tories.

And even when Labour was out of office, as it was in the 1980s and much of the 1990s, it still did sterling work stopping the Tories from going too far. They have said that they were afraid to go too far with privatising the NHS, as they knew this would be seized upon and they’d lose the election to Labour. But once New Labour was in power under Bliar, they noted angrily that Labour went further with the privatisation of the NHS than they dared. And hence the Tories have gone even further with Andrew Lansley’s disgusting Health and Social Care Bill.

But Murdoch’s smiling, ’cause he counts on winning, no matter who’s in power. And de Piero’s happy, as she thinks she’ll keep her seat in parliament. Who knows? She might even get a place in cabinet and a nice, juicy directorship when she retires.

While others starve and wonder how they’re going to pay their medical bills.

Vote Leave’s Lies about the EU and the NHS Funding

June 9, 2016

I just caught a bit of Vote Leave’s referendum broadcast earlier this evening. It was broadcast around about 7 O’clock, just before the One Show. I didn’t see all of it, as I was busy here, putting up article, but just managed to catch a snippet where they claiming that the £350 million they claim we spend every week on Europe could be used to build hospitals in the NHS. They then claimed that the EU therefore was undermining the Health Service.

They then went on to scaremonger about immigration, raising the dire spectre of what might happen when Albania, Macedonia and Turkey all join the EU. There were large, scary arrows from those countries running across Europe to Britain, rather like the diagram of the Nazi advance in the titles of Dad’s Army. Which is actually what I’d much rather be watching, even in the recent film version, than the Brexiteers and their wretched propaganda. But they made, the claim, so let’s filk it.

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Mr Farage (and Johnson, Gove and Ms Patel)

First of all, the claim that Britain spends £350 million every week on Europe has been refuted again and again. Yes, we do spend that money, but we get over £100 million or so of it back. So in net terms, no, we certainly don’t spend that amount. See Mike’s articles about this over at Vox Political.

Then there’s that guff about funding the EU diverting money away from the NHS. This is rubbish. What is undermining the NHS is the stealth privatisation carried out by Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care bill of 2012. This has opened up the NHS to further privatisation by private health care firms, such as Virgin, which under law must be given contracts. This has frequently gone against the wishes of the patients using the NHS. The reforms included forcing local authorities responsible for some NHS provision to contract out at least 3 medical services from a list of eight sent down by the government. Furthermore, the remaining state-owned and managed sectors of the NHS are being deliberately starved of funds as part of the campaign to privatise the whole shebang. See Jacky Davis’ and Raymond Tallis’ NHS SOS, particularly the chapters ‘1. Breaking the Public Trust’, by John Lister; ‘2. Ready for Market’, by Steward Player, and ‘7. From Cradle to Grave’, by Allyson M. Pollock and David Price.

It’s a lie that the NHS is being starved of funding due to Europe. It’s being starved of funding due to Lansley and the rest of the Conservative party and their purple counterparts in UKIP. If Vote Leave were serious about the funding crisis in the NHS, then Johnson, Gove, Patel and the other xenophobes and Little Englanders would have voted against Lansley’s bill. They didn’t. They supported it.

‘Bloody Foreigners, Comin’ Over ‘Ere!’

Let’s deal with the threat of people from Turkey, Albania and Macedonia all flooding over here in the next few years. This too, is overblown and pretty much a lie. Turkey would like to join the EU, but the chances of it actually qualifying to do so are presently remote. Critics have suggested that it’ll only reach the point where it has developed sufficiently to be admitted in about 30 years’ time. So the Turks are hardly likely to come flooding up from Anatolia in the next few years.

As for Albania and Macedonia, I’m sceptical about the numbers that will come from those nations due to the open borders policies. Mike’s posted up pieces reminding us all how millions of Romanians and Bulgarians were supposed to be ready to inundate Britain, and in the event only a small number arrived. Mark Steel, the left-wing activist and comedian, in one of his newspaper columns, republished in Colin Firth and Anthony Arnove’s The People Speak: Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport, attacked the inflated claims of the threat of uncontrolled immigration by pointing out that many of the Poles, who were supposed to flood in, had in fact gone back to Poland. So while it’s certainly possible that a vast number of Albanians and Macedonians may want to come to Britain, it’s also possible that few in fact will.

And in any case, why would they all want to come to Britain? The impression given by the Brexit video tonight was that Britain was a tiny island under siege, and that the first country that the Turks, Albanians and Macedonians would all head for was Britain. But why? Britain’s social security system and welfare state – or what remains of them – are much less generous than some parts of the rest of Europe. Britain does have more cache, apparently, than some of the other nations, but Britain is by no means the sole destination for migrants, as we’ve seen.

Vote Leave’s video tonight was little more than right-wing scaremongering. What I saw was mostly speculation, and when it wasn’t speculation, as on the piece on the NHS, it was a distortion compounded with lies. There are problems with Europe and immigration, but leaving the EU isn’t the solution. Indeed, voting for Johnson, Gove, Patel, Farage and their cronies will only make the situation worse. They want to privatise the NHS, just as they want to remove the EU human rights legislation and social charter that protects British workers. The anti-EU campaign is part of this programme to grind down and deprive working people of their hard-won rights at work and for state support in sickness and unemployment. Don’t be taken in.