People are confused when the Government says “The NHS has not been privatised” thinking: “Well, it’s still free so it can’t be private”. THIS IS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO THINK. The reality is that many services have already been privatised. So, why don’t we pay for them? WE DO! The private companies (eg Virgin, which already has more than £1 billion of NHS contracts) charge the NHS for their services, adding on their cut for profits (directors salaries, perks and pensions) and their rewards to shareholders by way of dividends. This ADDS to the cost of the NHS which allows Jeremy Hunt to say we cannot afford it!
Of course we can’t if we are already paying private companies over the odds
And see the letter below this image:
“The problem with the King’s Fund’s latest analysis (NHS privatisation would be ‘political suicide’ says thinktank, theguardian.com, 1 February) is that it ignores the fact some privatisation has already taken place. Of course it would be madness for any government to hand over the whole NHS to insurance companies, or privatise it in the way that Margaret Thatcher privatised British Gas. There is not even a majority for this among Tory party members. But only a handful of people seriously believe that’s the plan: the private sector doesn’t want most of the NHS – care, complex care, treatment of chronic illness, most mental health services. No matter how wealthy you are, you can’t buy any private equivalent to NHS emergency services, maternity, or many others.
Instead private firms want to take over services that they see as potentially profitable – especially the provision of simple elective surgery – the bread and butter of Britain’s tiny private hospitals (average size 50 beds). But the lack of any public support for privatisation has not stopped commissioners giving contracts to Virgin and other private companies for work previously done by NHS trusts. This, by any reasonable definition, is privatisation. In 2015-16, 7.6% of NHS spending was on private providers.
Reshaping the law to allow this piecemeal privatisation was the aim of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which compels CCGs to put services out to tender. The King’s Fund lends weight to disingenuous government denials that they have been privatising services. They would do better to endorse demands for the repeal of the 2012 act and the reinstatement of the NHS as a publicly owned and publicly provided service.
Dr John Lister
Co-chair, Keep Our NHS Public”