The NHS is up for Sale by Stealth
The Tories will sell the NHS if you don’t vote to protect it has been a Labour slogan for successive elections now and sadly, despite the NHS being widely seen as one of the most important considerations when it comes to voting, protecting it from said Tories has never won the day. The economy is seen by many to be more important, ‘the NHS is still there what are you talking about?’ Might be another, ‘typical lefty scaremongering’ might be a third. It wasn’t all that long ago that the spectre of TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership was seen to be a threat to the NHS, the demands it be taken off the table in any trade deal were loud and clear, but if you thought when TTIP was sunk that that was the end of the matter and the NHS was safe, then I’m afraid you’re wrong. The Tories have simply become a lot more sneaky about it and mainstream media are less inclined to put the hard yards in to uncover what they’ve been up to since.
The threat to our NHS, the loss of it we face can be traced back to the Health & Social Care Act introduced by Andrew Lansley under David Cameron, which introduced competition rules into health contracts and the NHS was no longer guaranteed to win the business. What was there’s for the taking to deal with & deliver in as cost effective manner as possible with their 70 years of experience in doing so, was now put up for tender. Virgin, Circle, Serco, you know the names, they suddenly put bids in for certain contracts, the most lucrative ones, the most profitable ones, delivered with making money in mind, not delivering world class health services. We’ve seen how privatisation has failed people over and over as a result, so much so, that now the Tories are set to introduce more health reforms to undo many of their previous reforms! They need to undo all of them, but for as long as Thatcherite capitalist self-serving mantras pervade their ideology, the stuff that needs repealing, won’t be. The mainstream media might tell us privatisation is over, but it clearly isn’t as I’ll explain in a moment. The NHS was left with the leftovers essentially, the tough jobs, the less profitable jobs, the ones the cherry-picking outsourcing giants didn’t want.
Well if they’re going to undo the damage now what’s your problem Damo? Some might ask.
The Lansley reforms came in in 2012, so we’ve had getting on for 9 years of this competition driven health service, free at point of use in all but name. We fund the service through taxation and contributions, but having opened the service up to the likes of those companies I mentioned before, where previously profits would have been sunk into running the service as economically & efficiently as possible, it is now run to ensure shareholders get their return. That costs us more and when none of these companies have the experience of running these services that the NHS does, you get a worse, more costly service. That should anger us all.
But my original point at the start of this article was regarding the survival of the NHS. TTIP was a huge threat to it because the thought of US health insurance giants being able to bid
for those lucrative health contracts, knowing how they run healthcare over there was terrifying. The US has the worst healthcare system going, with many unable to afford insurance and the costs of healthcare literally bankrupting thousands of people every year. One study found that 62.1% of all bankruptcies in the US were down to healthcare costs and over 2 million Americans have been adversely affected by medical bills.
The fall of TTIP has not made this threat go away. Circle, one of those outsourcing companies I mentioned before, is now at least 25% owned by US health Insurance giant Centene as of January of this year. Circle was set up by a bunch of Tory donors, hedge funders, the usual where it comes to the Tories and were handed more than £1.5bn of healthcare contracts within 2 years of Lansley’s reforms. The US healthcare threat I’m afraid to say is very much already here and now has a stake in that. On the 9th of February, Centene, under its UK name of Operose, took over the running of 40 GP surgeries in London from a company called AT Medics Limited, which it bought out. You see, when you hand health contracts to private companies, they deliver the service, under so-called APMS contracts, Alternative Provider of Medical Services contracts and indeed, such companies can get bought by someone else at any time, inheriting those contracts. Our NHS might not be for sale, but everything it has had taken from it, handed over to a private company, itself vulnerable to takeover means they very much can be and US healthcare giants have very deep pockets. Now there are supposed to be safeguards in place against this, the 2012 Tory Health reforms created CCG’s as oversight, Clinical Commissioning Groups, but perversely, Operose is regularly used by several CCG’s as an advisory body! They advise on ‘integration’ for which you can readily insert the word’ privatisation’ instead. CCG’s are responsible for the administration of around two-thirds of the entire NHS budget, some £80bn in 2019/20 so its terrifying what is being exposed here.
Centene, under the guise of Operose or AT Medics now run more than 70 GP surgeries, mainly around London. The US healthcare takeover is here and they’re starting with GP services and don’t for one moment think further Tory reforms will stop this. Centene are a company in America that has had lawsuits filed against it for anything from shifting risks to outright denial of care. Our NHS is being sold off, make no mistake, but its being done by stealth, out of plain sight and the Tories, with their connections via donors to all this, know it.
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