NHS privatisation: the big sell-off, lock, stock and barrel

The big question is – will our Yorkshire MPs be at the EveryDoctor press briefing on the growing privatisation of the NHS tomorrow at 11 am tomorrow? The EveryDoctor campaign group and its supporters have sent out some 2,400 emails inviting all 650 of our MPs to attend. So far only just over 90 have signed up, including Hull East’s Labour MP, Karl Turner.

EveryDoctor runs a network of 40,000 staff and has over 1,700 members. Their big concern is to ensure that the NHS remains a public, not-for-profit institution.

NHS privatisation: live or let die?

We pay for the NHS through our taxes and, when we’re ill medical treatment is free. We don’t have to worry that because we can’t pay for it, we won’t get treated when we need it. The big worry is that neither MPs nor the public know just how much the NHS is being sold off bit by bit and privatised.

Privatisation by stealth under our noses

The chief executive of EveryDoctor, Dr Julia Patterson said that “privatisation is now more than a threat. It’s already actually happening. It’s the number one reason the NHS is not functioning”. Privatisation has been done stealthily, and steadily since 1992.

Two things have led doctors to campaign against this. First, concerns over the NHS’s capacity to manage the backlog of operations caused by the covid pandemic. Second, rising alarm over how, as Dr Patterson put it, increasing privatisation has undermined standards of patient care and threatened the safety and wellbeing of doctors and all frontline staff.

We’ve all heard about problems over staffing levels, nurse recruitment, staff burnout, and useless or dangerous and inadequate equipment supplies. But the awarding of questionable ‘VIP’ covid contracts was the tip of the iceberg. Court action is pending.

American insurance company take-over

Dr Patterson highlights the recent take-over of a large number of London-based GP practices by an American insurance company as further evidence of creeping privatisation. Its chief executive is now an expert adviser to Boris Johnson on how to transform the NHS.

How often have we heard pleas for a properly funded health care system? How often have we heard about costly reforms of the NHS that take us further down the road to private health care where you get the care you can pay for not the care you might need?

Time for MPs to act

So EveryDoctor is asking MPs for immediate action to ensure that our NHS does not fall into private hands. Will our MPs listen? Will they do anything to protect us? That is their duty, but how many of them are aware of how our health is being sold off to private interests? We have seen the devastating effects of that during the pandemic.

Indeed, medical experts have already said that the UK came extremely close to the situation India faces. Why? Because of lack of political preparedness, lack of resources, farcical track and trace outsourced from qualified clinicians to unqualified call-centres (exposed in parliament when its head, Dido Harding, was grilled), and questionable procurement via private-for-profit interests rather than public procurement.

Too poor to afford to buy health care

Now we must all learn the lessons. Not-for-profit, public health benefits us all. But if you are too poor to pay for insurance and access health care, you suffer and those around you are at risk. Covid showed us that.

The whole community is at risk when infectious diseases aren’t controlled because people can’t pay for medical care.

Will your MP turn up?

We trust doctors with our lives. When we’re asked which professions we trust most, doctors and nurses come top. Politicians are way down the list. It will be very interesting to see which MPs turn up to the online briefing. The list is on social media to check out.

Doctors and nurses aren’t known for being whistle-blowers. They rarely speak out about what is happening inside the NHS. Until now.

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