There has been much debate in recent times that the only thing to save the NHS is a ‘cross party commission’. The constant refrain that the NHS is bust belies the fact that the NHS has been in surplus in recent years with the leftover funds sent back to the Treasury and not used for healthcare. What is also forgotten is that there is a set of government imposed cuts to the NHS of over £20bn. This is why the NHS is struggling, waiting times are increasing, beds are never freed up, doctors struggle to properly care for patients and A&Es, hospitals and GP surgeries are bursting at the seams.
A commission has been backed by some well known people who have some very worrying hidden facts about themselves that they are not keen to broadcast. Norman Lamb MP has spearheaded the campaign for a commission. Here is a politician who was at the heart of health policy in the Tory led coalition from 2010-2015 – a period of time that pushed through the disastrous Health and Social Care Bill on the NHS in England and forced huge cuts to the service leaving it in the parlous state it is today. In cahoots with Lamb calling for a commission are Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn.
Dorrell stood down from Parliament in 2015 after 36 years at the heart of the Tory machine. He was chair of the influential Health Select Committee and most notably recently took a role with the firm KPMG whilst still an MP and at a time when KPMG were bidding for NHS contracts worth £1bn.
Milburn was a Labour MP and as Secretary of State for Health he was the architect of New Labour’s warm welcome of the private sector into the NHS. He subsequently left Parliament to ‘spend more time with his family’ and his since taken lucrative roles with the firm Bridgepoint Capital and PriceWaterhouseCoopers – both of which have taken substantial contracts from the NHS. Sometimes they even leave patients high and dry when the profits dry up.
The point I am making is that all these individuals have been involved in many aspects of English NHS privatisation – a process that has destabilised and fragmented the service wasting billions of pounds that could have been spent on patient care.
Governments of the day can choose the remit of a Royal Commission and influence the choice of chair for the Commission. Governments can also completely ignore the report findings if they don’t like the outcome.
This is a real danger. We have a Conservative majority government hell bent on reducing spend on public services to 1930s levels – and making a very good job of it up to now. A commission is the perfect vehicle for them to ‘discuss’ NHS funding and embrace their hoped for outcome requiring charging for NHS services or an insurance based health care system. And the beauty of it is that the Conservatives can say it was all decided upon by an ‘independent commission’.
So the project that Margaret Thatcher contemplated but never dared go near could be completed by her protégé David Cameron in the next year or two. The NHS as we know will cease to exist. Private healthcare firms, health lobbyists and insurance companies for whom politicians work for and profit from will rake in many more millions and it will be patient care that suffers and the NHS will be doomed.
I urge you to write to your MP to oppose a commission for all the reasons I give. You can write to your MP here. This may be the last chance saloon for the NHS.
Posted by David Wrigley
Monday, 25 January 2016
About the Author
I am an NHS General Practitioner and work in Lancashire, UK. I campaign for the NHS and I am chair of the Medical Practitioners Union of Unite the Union. I also speak for the non partisan organisation Keep Our NHS Public. I have recently co-authored ‘NHS for Sale’ about the deception and lies written about the NHS. I also contributed to the book ‘NHS SOS’ which outlines how the NHS has been betrayed by politicians, the media and NHS leaders. I am a member of the British Medical Association UK Council and General Practitioners Committee. This personal blog will explore some of the aspects of health policy in the UK. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org