NHS privatisation is bad news – how to explain what’s happening to someone who has doubts

How many people have been nudged, goaded or battered into believing that the NHS is now beyond saving? How many have been nudged, goaded or battered into believing that privatisation for some or all services is the only way forward? What a very clever campaign the Conservatives have fought! How very happy their many private healthcare donors must be! Payback is imminent. Kerr-ching!

How have the Conservatives (nearly) pulled off this stunt? Here’s the government NHS plan in plain English:

  • Steadily defund the NHS in real terms.
  • Concentrate on the headline funding numbers when talking to the press and include ‘exceptional’ items in the quoted spending figures: the billions wasted on unusable PPE and the failed Test, Track and Trace system, for example. That way people will believe government is, and has been, pumping fantastic sums of money in.
  • Studiously ignore evidence that we spend less on healthcare and have lower bed and doctor-to population ratios than other developed countries.
  • Let the waiting lists rack up and make the waiting lists so long that people feel forced to go private or suffer/get worse/die.
  • Call repairs/extensions to existing hospitals ‘new’ hospitals.
  • Promote images and reports showing ministers praising NHS staff while refusing to pay them appropriately.
  • Make outrageous claims about ‘outrageous’ pay claims and encourage media to follow suit.
  • Bring in a strike bill which violates human rights.
  • Exploit, demotivate and demoralise staff so that they leave. Many will want to stay in the UK, so will join… PRIVATE AGENCIES! NHS staff shortages forces trusts to hire in agency staff at around three times the cost of NHS employees. Agency pockets a nice profit. And you can’t blame staff for wanting to be paid properly and not exploited.
  • Keep drip-feeding the public, via client media, with the message that using the private sector is the only way out of the problem.
  • Appoint ministers who don’t bother to engage with the staff or really understand how the NHS is run/what it does and
  • Fail to explain that, in many cases, the minute something goes wrong with treatment, patients are sent back into the NHS where the expertise still resides…for now.
  • Portray the profiteers as the saviours of the NHS.
  • Re-organise so frequently that nothing gets bedded in before it’s torn out again.
  • Tell the public that pay demands are inflationary and, at the same time, tell them that drilling in the North Sea will help the NHS…
  • Dance to the tune of those who make us sicker…water companies, polluters, junk food manufacturers and purveyors etc Make sure big pharma makes its profits! There’s no profit in a well person!
  • Refuse to even consider the theory that spending on health is an investment in the nation!
  • Ignore the simple truth that private companies are in it to make profit. Profit is money NOT spent on patients or provision of services/supplies or anything else.

    A recent report found that:

“…increased for-profit outsourcing from clinical commissioning groups [CCGs] in England might have adversely affected the quality of care delivered to patients and resulted in increased mortality rates,”

The authors speculated that the higher mortality might be due to private companies:

“delivering worse-quality care, resulting in more health complications and deaths”, or because greater competition for contracts may result in for-profit providers prioritising shorter waiting times “at the expense of quality of care”.

“While some have argued the Health and Social Care Act would improve the performance of health services by increasing competition, our findings add merit to longstanding concerns it could instead lead to cost-cutting and poorer health outcomes,” said the study’s lead, Benjamin Goodair of the University of Oxford.

Finally, remember – this all comes from the party that said privatisation of water would benefit consumers and look where that got us!

It doesn’t have to be this way.