#Conservative Party breakup and Privatisation of our #NHS: The connection between the junior doctors’ contract and the American corporate takeover of the NHS
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Dr Bob Gill (@DrBobGill) explains the unreported and sinister drive behind the push for changing junior doctors’ contracts.
What is going on right now?
The latest assault on the NHS involves the imposition of a new contract for junior doctors that will see their salaries slashed by 30% with a requirement for evening and Saturday work.
The excuse used to justify this change is to provide a seven-day service and improve patient outcomes on weekends.
The reality is that more qualified staff are being driven out in preparation for the de-skilling that is always part of healthcare privatisation and corporate takeover. For the UK, this is mapped out in the Five Year Forward View by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England. Stevens used to be an executive of the US based private health care company, UnitedHealth.
What all junior doctors – and the rest of us – need to know
Many junior medics – which means all doctors not yet senior enough to work in consultant positions – have been stirred into action, but it is crucial for them to understand the context of their current predicament to mount an effective campaign to protect patients, restore decent treatment of staff and block the completion of the privatisation of the NHS.
But first, a little history lesson…
Conversion from the NHS model, a publicly funded, provided and universal system, to a private insurance model has been proposed for decades.
In 1968 Arthur Seldon, later Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation policy adviser, produced a pamphlet for the Institute of Economic Affairs called After the NHS, explaining the aspiration to “improve the NHS” by abolishing it so as to build profit opportunities insurance industry.
Further incarnations of this same plan to enable the insurance industry to increase its profits in the UK by destroying the NHS surfaced in the 1980s. This included Health of Nations by the Adam Smith Institute and, in 1988, Britain’s Biggest Enterprise: Ideas for Radical Reform of the NHS, a version articulated by current Conservative Minister of State for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin MP in the NHS privatisation manifesto he wrote with John Redwood MP, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, a Thatcherite think-tank.
The stealth privatisation of the NHS had quietly begun under the Thatcher administration and has continued unabated ever since. The sole attempt to bring the plan out of the shadows, its presentation to a Conservative cabinet in 1983, was so roundly rejected that the decision was taken to complete the privatisation by covert means, under a series of false narratives to distract the public from what was really going on.
From outsourcing of non-clinical services, introduction of market bureaucracy, splitting up of the hospital network into independent Trusts and the usurious Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme for creating an opportunity to gouge the public purse through inflating the costs of funding new hospital building.
PFI started on John Major’s watch and continued under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Blair’s New Labour government continued with the privatisation project, while maintaining the deceptions contained within successive pointless top-down reorganisations which actually took the NHS further down the privatisation road, precisely following the steps laid out in the Health of Nations NHS privatisation plan.