This coming April, without being properly evidenced and openly debated in Parliament, Jeremy Hunt (the Health Secretary) plans to quietly introduce legislation that fundamentally changes our NHS forever.
As the plans stand today, they allow him to hand the running of your local NHS services over to multinational health conglomerates, and he’s now announced the intention to do this in 15 year long contracts, ensuring it’s almost impossible for future Governments to change.
Many of you might have been wondering why Prof Stephen Hawking has been so angry with Jeremy Hunt and this Government of late, and why he joined a legal action against them? Well it’s because of these plans to introduce Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) and because it’s being done without proper debate and evidence. Indeed, this Government are trying desperately to avoid debating openly in Parliament the legislation which restructures the NHS into ACOs.
So why the fuss about ACOs? Well ACOs according to the Kings Fund; “result when NHS providers agree to merge to create a single organisation or when commissioners use competitive procurement to INVITE BIDS FROM ORGANISATIONS CAPABLE OF TAKING ON A CONTRACT TO DELIVER SERVICES TO A DEFINED POPULATION.”
Some of the senior MPs in Jeremy Hunt’s own party are right now urging him to slow down on his move to ACO’s, to let this change be properly evidenced and debated in Parliament, but he presses on regardless. So we have to ask ourselves, why doesn’t he want to openly debate his plans, if it’s not indeed to hand out these 15 year contracts to multinational health conglomerates?
As bad as that all is, it actually might be much worse. Once your local NHS is being run by large private organisations whose primary goal is squeezing every bit of profit out of their NHS contracts, not patient outcomes, and the costs of care is forced higher and higher, what is expected by many to then follow is the introduction of a health insurance-based system to cover the increasing costs.
The Government obviously deny that a move to a health insurance-based system is their ultimate aim, and that may or may not be true, but we do know is it would be absolutely in line with Conservative party ideology, to shift the cost of the NHS to the individual, thus reducing the cost to the State, therefore allowing for tax cuts which again we know mainly benefit the very wealthy… So again we have to ask ourselves, why would they stop this process?
So, if a healthcare insurance-based system is to be introduced, it would surely be done with a fixed low cap to get us used to the idea of paying for cover, but we all remember student tuition fees and how the low cap was quickly lifted, and now UK students pay some of the highest fees in the entire world. Once our health insurance premiums were also at comparable levels to the States, that would be the game changer for our country.
The average unsubsidised family healthcare premium in America in 2017 was £735 PER MONTH with a £950 excess, and that is what many people now believe we are at risk of paying here too, if this or a future Government does take the decision to complete the privatisation of the NHS.
For many families, even if employers subsidise healthcare cover, such would be the cost each month at best it would remove what was left in the family budget for holidays, the family days out, spoiling your children and grandchildren a little at Christmas, so family life would be very different to today. At worst, families (including many working families) will be left with impossible choices to make. Some would quite literally be going hungry and cold, as healthcare cover for their children will have to be the priority over food and heating.
For future generations, healthcare cover would be yet another huge burden on top of eye-watering tuition fees and impossibly high housing costs, indeed social mobility would become incredibly unlikely as young people, even many graduates, will be kept in a poverty trap with little or no disposable income.
Under the narrative being crafted of the failing NHS, this Government would have you believe privatisation is the answer as they say they are funding the NHS adequately, and it is failing due to the poor performance of its inefficient staff. THIS IS NOT TRUE. It’s failing as it has been underfunded in relation to the increase in the number of patients it’s expected to care for, and because it has been straddled with huge PFI debts, and hospitals are now forced to pay private companies astronomical amounts of money for routine maintenance work. Further privatisation of the NHS will not be its saviour, it will be its ultimate demise.
So what is the answer? Well it’s time now for the NHS to be brought back together into a single organisation run by the public sector, restructured for modern times and then allowed to go forward again as a patient focussed organisation. It needs to be managed by the people who deliver the care, by the staff which serve its cause and in whom we as a country are so incredibly proud. This Government has done the biggest disservice to our doctors and nurses, so please help us assure them it wasn’t on our behalf and that we believe in our NHS and it’s amazing staff.
Above is a link to the petition calling for the Government to stop the privatisation of NHS services. If you do sign this petition today, and if we do lose the NHS as could still happen, well at least then you’ll be one of the people that can look your children and grandchildren in the eye and say you did stand up, and you tried to get the politicians to debate their plans honestly.
The above is based upon my post on Facebook on the 23rd February 2018. If you’ve already read the content as many will have I apologise, but as it was shared and read so many times I thought it was worth retaining much of what I wrote on my website for others to read in the future.
As of today (7th March 2018) at 10AM, the post on Facebook has been shared 71,733 times, meaning it’s been read by hundreds of thousands if not millions of people now. The result is the petition attached to the post currently has 219,285 signatures and as I write this has had a response from the government, but still awaits a date for debate in parliament (these are triggered once a petition reaches 100,000 signatures).