Graham Pearcy wrote eloquently about his experience of the NHS in Poetic Justice and the NHS (Issue 139). It’s interesting how one good experience can make you ‘almost’ question your beliefs: in his previous article (Battle Lines for the NHS, Issue 133) he had discussed his concerns for the future of the NHS with councillor Mike Turner, HBC representative on East Sussex Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Like many people, I’m aware that all is not right with the NHS and that predatory corporations are looking to make lucrative profits through an ongoing process of privatisation. Yet even I am lulled by the constant denials from government that this is actually happening. 

So I was prompted to buy How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps to gain some clarity – after all, there is an election on the way. 

And what a shock to read that the total bill for PFI hospital building (a way of financing public sector projects through the private sector) is set to exceed £79 billion on capital costs of £11.4 billion. 

I could have read that in the Guardian, and perhaps have, but it’s so different when you read everything in context. The sheer waste of money is extraordinary, and much of it, apparently, with the purpose of preparing the NHS for privatisation. As quoted in a previous article in HIP Softly Killing the NHS, Issue 123: “PFI horrors can only gain their heady profits by selling us the story that our NHS is inefficient and uneconomical.”

But privatisation is still hotly denied and most people, at least at some level, believe that the NHS is still ‘safe in our hands’, the mantra bequeathed to the Conservative Party by Margaret Thatcher. Why this belief? Perhaps the main reason is that the government can point to the huge amount of money they are “ploughing into the NHS year by year”. But whether any promised increase is to make up for previous cuts is almost immaterial when much of the new money is just syphoned off into private hands. 

A kind of propaganda is drip fed to the media through ‘think tanks’ like the Kings Fund, who have this to say in answer to the question Is the NHS being privatised?

“Provided that patients receive care that it is timely and free at the point of use, our view is that the provider of a service is less important than the quality and efficiency of the care they deliver.” 

Well they would, wouldn’t they.In the words of Councillor Turner at the end of Battle Lines for the NHS: “Think very carefully who you are voting for at the ballot box.”

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