A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
Thousands of protesters will overwhelm the Liberal Democrat conference in Sheffield tomorrow in an attempt to derail the party’s love affair with NHS privatisation.
Police predict that up to 10,000 protesters including health workers and campaigners will vastly outnumber the 2,000 or so delegates expected to attend the Lib Dems’ spring conference at City Hall.
A two-and-a-half-metre-high “ring of steel” has been built outside the conference centre as part of a police security operation reportedly costing £2 million.
Coalition’s NHS attack ‘worse than Thatcher’ / Britain / Home – Morning Star
Women trade unionists warned that the Con-Dems are planning an assault on the NHS worse than anything tried by Margaret Thatcher.
Delegates at the TUC women’s conference in Eastbourne said the coalition’s planned “reforms” would put lives at risk and turn the health service into nothing more than a corporate logo slapped on a privately run system.
“Even Margaret Thatcher didn’t dare do to the NHS what this government is trying to do,” Chartered Society of Physiotherapists speaker Kim Gainsborough said.
The Health and Social Care Bill could put the NHS into the hands of company shareholders, CSP delegate Kim Gainsborough told the TUC Women’s Conference.
‘Promoting competition runs through all 354 pages of the bill,’ said Ms Gainsborough, a women’s health physiotherapist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
‘That raises the prospect of private companies, including big multinationals, taking over our NHS, accountable to their shareholders rather than to us.’
This Saturday is decision time for the Liberal Democrats. Will the party back market reforms that put the NHS at risk, or will it listen to the record number of delegates who wish to amend them?
The Lib Dems uniquely still allow party members to decide policy, and do so in public. The motion from the leadership at our conference welcomes the declared aspirations of Andrew Lansley’s healthcare reforms, and then seeks to justify them with dodgy statistics that depend more on eating and smoking habits 20 years ago than any previous structural reform. It fails to even start to mount a defence of the marketisation aspects of the health and social care bill, and is unable to identify any true increase in democratic accountability, let alone local control.
So it’s no surprise that the amendments Shirley Williams and I have tabled calling for proper accountability and safeguards against privatisation have attracted such support from delegates.
Last year I described the Government’s Health White Paper as “an avoidable train crash”. Since then, with the Health Bill published and GP commissioning consortia rolling out, I admit I was wrong. It will be far worse.
The resulting carnage of a dismembered and disintegrated health service will provide rich pickings for private companies and the unscrupulous among private GP contractors. The fractured NHS will be monumentally difficult to hold together.
Ministers have been desperately cobbling together selective statistics which they hope will demonstrate that the NHS is not as good as it could or should be. It’s true and it could be a lot better. But that doesn’t justify the complete trashing of all of the institutional architecture of the NHS.
Early on in last year’s election campaign, the Tory party put up posters all over the country showing an obviously airbrushed picture of David Cameron alongside the slogan “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS”.
Cameron had previously told the Tory party conference that the NHS was one of the 20th century’s greatest achievements. “Tony Blair explained his priorities in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters: NHS.” If, as he hoped, he was elected, there would be “no more pointless and disruptive reorganisations” and any change would be driven by the needs of doctors and patients.
It was probably Cameron’s most successful piece of campaigning. People who had previously entertained doubts about his intentions felt reassured that, whatever else might happen if the Tories were elected, the NHS would be left untouched.