As Nye Bevan famously said the NHS will be around for as long as there are people willing to fight for it. Well today in 2012 with the health and social bill making its way through the lords at present the signs do not look good. But medical groups and workers are rising to the task in hand.
The National Health Service (NHS) is being broken apart by the hammer blows raining down on it from the Con-Dem government. Huge job cuts and closures of hospital wards and departments, including Accident and Emergency, are wreaking havoc. On top of this, the widely criticised Con-Dems' Health and Social Care Bill will accelerate the privatisation process in the NHS.
How the NHS is being undermined:
'Efficiency savings' ie cuts. The Royal College of Nursing said last November that 56,000 jobs have been axed in the last two years as part of the current government's drive to achieve £20-£30 billion of 'efficiency savings'.
Privatisation. Begun by John Major's Tory government in the 1990s, most non-medical NHS staff have been outsourced to private contractors. The resulting job cuts have meant a deterioration in cleaning and other vital services. And a fortnight ago an entire hospital, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, was taken over by a for-profit private company, Circle.
Heralded by Labour's Tony Blair, Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts - under which hospitals are built and maintained - are licences for private corporations to make vast profits at the expense of NHS funds.
Mega-expensive PFI schemes have put 22 health trusts in jeopardy of becoming bankrupt. But instead of scrapping these rip-off schemes, health secretary Andrew Lansley has agreed to subsidise the contracts with £1.5 billion of public money!
The move to Foundation Trust hospitals (another Labour inspired scheme) will increase 'competition' between hospitals for resources and lead to more cuts and closures. Under the Health and Social Care Bill self-governing Foundation Trusts will also be allowed to raise 49% of funds through non-NHS work. In other words, prioritising higher fee-paying private patients over NHS patients.
A leaked NHS report last year spelt out how private companies will direct the commissioning of patient services when 80% of the health budget is transferred to GP consortia under the government's Health and Social Care Bill. A clear admission that the Con-Dems intend to privatise the NHS.
The Socialist Party calls on the trade unions and community NHS campaigns to unite and fight to stop Lansley's Bill and the threats to our NHS and instead demand a fully funded, publicly owned and democratically run health service.
Kill the Bill. Stop Tory health minister Andrew Lansley and the Con-Dems turning the clock back on health care in Britain. We want free, accessible, high quality and publicly funded healthcare
No cuts, closures or job losses in the NHS
No mergers, or any other 'reorganisation', on anything other than clinical grounds
End the postcode lottery. Fully-funded, high quality, health care should be accessible in every area
Kick big business out of the NHS. End PFI and refuse to pay the debt
Nationalise the pharmaceutical companies under democratic control and integrate them into the NHS
For mass action to defend the NHS with trade union strike action at its heart
This is just the start of the fightback whih needs to be ramped up. With the threat of privatisation at its core this piece of tory legeslation threatens the whole idea of a national health service for the benifit of all.
Part and parcel with this profiteering are the enormous cuts. £20 billion of so-called savings planned since 2010 are ravaging the NHS.
But resistance is growing. Health workers' trade unions and organisations, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, with members numbering hundreds of thousands have come out against it.
Given that what is posed is the total destruction of the NHS this is not surprising. Even a survey by relatively wealthy governments in the OECD recognises the NHS as one of the world's best health systems that has been improving patient care for years.
We have seen the labour party and Ed Milibandwagon come out in recent days to jump on the ground swell of feeling against this bill ratehr opportunistically in my view.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is opportunistically attempting to claim the mantle of hero of the NHS but has no effective strategy to defend the biggest reform ever won by the working class in Britain.
"Now is the time for people of all parties and of none, the professions, the patients and now peers in the House of Lords to work together to try to stop this bill." But disability rights campaigners can explain how far opposition in the Lords got them in the campaign to oppose the vicious Welfare Reform Bill. MPs thanked the Lords for their amendments and ignored them, passing that bill up for royal assent, effectively making it law.
Like the bashing of bankers' bonuses Miliband has hit on a rich seam of anger among working class people. But Miliband and his party are not against all 'reform'. He has described Labour's reforms "including using the private sector where appropriate" as the reform the NHS needs. Labour is a big business party which, when in power for 13 years, went very far in preparing the ground for Lansley's bill through massive PFI privatisation and marketisation of the health service. So whatever happens do not let labou off teh hook here and think they are on our side as they are not the last 13 years showed exactly that.
To save the NHS we must be serious about defending it to start with not looking for short term political gains and boosts in certain polls and right wing tabloids but principled resistance to one of the greatest organisations this country has ever produced. If this goes and the break up of the NHS is started future generations will not forgive us for idolly
standing by while it happened.
Lets unite now to defend one of Britains best known treasures.