In my article in today’s Cornish Guardian focused on the threat to the NHS from the privatisation agenda of the Westminster parties. It was as follows:
In a well-received speech on St David’s Day, actor Michael Sheen declared that “there has been a systematic undermining of the core values of the National Health Service, no matter who has been in power.”
Addressing a pro-NHS march, he expressed the view that politicians were missing the “bigger picture,” and we were “starting to become a society that we cannot be proud of.”
I share Martin Sheen’s concern about what is happening to our public services, in general, and the NHS, in particular.
During the 2010 General Election campaign, David Cameron claimed he would defend the National Health Service from “Labour’s cuts and reorganisations.” His Conservative Party also promised there would be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS. But they then pushed through the unpopular Health and Social Care Bill, which included measures to force greater competition into the provision of healthcare and opened up the NHS to a hot of private companies.
Here in Cornwall, we have already seen the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust privatise hotel services, such as cleaning, portering and catering. There was also a further attempt to privatise £75 million worth of so-called “non-complex” health services, which included trauma, general surgery and cardiology.
While upcountry, a private company which was running the Hinchingbrooke NHS hospital withdrew from its contract to provide health services because it was not profitable enough. They informed their “investors” that it was “no longer sustainable under current terms.”
And, last week, it was confirmed that the NHS has agreed it’s biggest-ever privatisation. In a deal worth up to £780 million, eleven private firms will be commissioned to carry out a range of operations, scans, X-rays and other diagnostic tests.
This is all extremely worrying and why I fully support the online campaign group, 38 Degrees, in their latest fight to protect this health service.
They are rightly concerned about the number of NHS contracts going to profit-driven private companies, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which could lead to more “US-style privatisations.”
As 38 Degrees state, in this election year: “There’s no better time to try and change the political landscape than when politicians are after our votes. Most candidates are full of warm words about the NHS because they know it’s popular. But our test is the crucial one: will they commit to kicking out privatisation, funding it properly and keeping it safe from TTIP? If they won’t, we’ll know their niceties are just hot air.”